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Telehealth is transforming medicine. The pace will accelerate in 2017 and the rapid adoption is presenting many questions to what I call the four Ps. 

Patients. The WSJ reported the American Telemedicine Association has counted more than 15 million Americans having received some kind of medical care remotely. The ATA expects the number to grow by 30% this year. Consumers are adopting new mHealth technology to measure their activity, heart rates, and soon many other metrics. They want to share this data with their doctor. They also love what I call the big C: Convenience. Many millions of conditions and ailments do not require driving across town and sitting in the waiting room.

 Providers. More and more doctors will find seeing patients on an iPad and e-prescribing treatments actually works. Doctors can be on either end of the Internet connection. Many small or remote hospitals cannot afford to have all forms of specialists which may be needed. Physicians are now using telehealth to get a consult from a specialist. 

 Payers. The insurance companies resisted telehealth for a long time. Then they said it was ok for people in remote locations, far from a doctor. Now they are realizing it doesn’t matter where the patient and provider are. They are seeing the efficiency and reduced cost for treating the insured remotely.

Policymakers. Many changes are needed in the regulatory area to gain the full benefit of telehealth. The states tightly regulate who can practice medicine where. If a patient wants to see a doctor who may be one mile across a state border, the doctor has to be licensed in the state where the patient resides. This makes no sense to the patient.

I will be writing about these issues during 2017. Read more about mHealth and telehealth in Health Attitude. If you enjoy these weekly e-briefs, please tell your friends. Happy New Year!

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