Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Telemedicine Now and In The Future

By Denise L. Fletcher

Vice President and Chief Innovation Officer
Healthcare, Pharma & Life Sciences


The healthcare industry is undergoing a seismic shift to a consumer - driven market. Consumers now want to interact with their healthcare providers and insurers the same way they do with anyone providing a service. This is requiring all players in the healthcare supply chain to rethink current models of service and provide a Zappos or Amazon-like experience.

In healthcare, this desire for excellent customer service translates to convenient, affordable anywhere care: a need for on-demand, online and immediate delivery of care without leaving the comfort of home. Telemedicine is one answer to this growing phenomenon, and many health insurance plans are responding by offering telemedicine solutions that bring quality healthcare to the consumer with the click of a mouse.

However, a lack of general awareness among consumers is one barrier to adoption.  While continued patient education by providers and payers can help to resolve the telemedicine awareness hurdle, the barriers to fully leveraging telemedicine solutions go a bit deeper. Lack of understanding of telemedicine coverage can leave many patients opting for tried-and-true in-office care delivery methods despite many carriers now offering a telemedicine solution.  Adoption of what’s covered is moving at a rapid pace as the regulatory climate continues to improve and states, payers and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) extend approval of telemedicine coverage. So it literally pays for payers and providers to help consumers stay abreast of news on this front.

There are a number of benefits to telemedicine beyond consumer satisfaction. Employers can leverage virtual physician office visits as a great option for keeping workers on the job while addressing health and wellness at a modest cost.  And as consumers pay a larger share of their healthcare costs, telemedicine is well positioned to provide patients with affordable options to treat simple maladies. In fact, it’s estimated that $2.2 billion per year in healthcare costs could be saved in the United States if patients used telemedicine and retail clinics instead of physicians’ offices, urgent care or emergency departments.

Advances in technology are not limited to one-time, short-term illnesses either. Some providers look at telemedicine as a potentially viable solution for maintaining successful patient outcomes post-acute care discharge and in home health settings – an important consideration as the nationwide healthcare system looks to outcomes-based payment methods as a contender for future healthcare models. Telemedicine also opens up an entirely new model of care for patients managing chronic diseases that require recurrent doctor visits or to connect virtually with those in rural locations whose geographic distance often prohibits consistent follow-up care. Offering an accessible, convenient option for connecting a patient to his or her physician is not only a win for the patient, but for the provider, who has opened-up time for more patient encounters – all while cutting overall healthcare spending through improved population health.

Patient-centric virtual care is here to stay and as consumer adoption in telemedicine rises we will see new and innovative uses of this solution to treat healthcare in a convenient and cost effective manner. Innovation in telemedicine presents countless possibilities for leveraging smart devices and the Internet of Things to truly deliver anywhere care at the click of a mouse. 

Denise Fletcher serves as Chief Innovation Officer for Xerox Healthcare, Pharma & Life Sciences. Fletcher is responsible for achieving annual group innovation revenue targets, fueling thought leadership strategies, engaging customers in innovation strategies, and driving innovation through a robust research and development pipeline. She has 6 patents pending in healthcare & pharma and was recognized by Front End Innovation in March 2014 as one of the top 40 women in Innovation.

Fletcher is a key strategist and influencer within the Xerox Healthcare Council, a member of Xerox’s University Affairs Council which seeds innovation grants to colleges and universities throughout the world, serves on the Healthcare Delivery Advisory board at WPI (Worcester Polytechnic Institute), MassTLC Healthcare Advisory Council and Crowd Company Council which focuses on the collaborative economy.


  1. Great post. With the advancement in technology, healthcare industry has witnessed tremendous change in form of Telemedicine services. It is a boon for the patients who can’t travel to far-off medical centers. In many ways, these services are helping patients remotely.

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