The concept of waking up with a cold, turning on your iPad and connecting with your doctor for a health assessment is becoming more real every day. Not only does telemedicine enable the possibility of consulting with your doctor from the comfort of your own home, it also allows for patients to connect with specialists in different regions. While this seems easy in theory, in practice, there have been challenges.
Some of those barriers include access to a computer and connectivity issues; however, in the United States, those barriers weren’t related to availability of resources, but rather were focused on whether health insurance companies would cover the cost of such “visits.”
While some insurers in the U.S. have plans to – or already do – cover certain areas of telemedicine, the coverage has not been expansive to date. UnitedHealth Group aims to change that with its recent announcement that it is expanding coverage options for virtual physician visits, giving subscribers enrolled in self-funded employer health plans secure, online access to physicians via mobile phone, tablet or computer 24 hours a day. With this rollout, almost one million UnitedHealth customers will have access to telemedicine by the end of the month with another 19 million joining them by 2016. By covering these services, insurers are encouraging physicians to invest in telemedicine and expand their ability to deliver top notch healthcare to as many patients as possible, regardless of location.
The rise of telemedicine, thanks to an influx of insurers now covering the service, brings external issues that mHealth applications providers will need to address – the main one being the promise of global, seamless connectivity. If a patient were to get disconnected from his physician during a visit, it could be detrimental to his health and to the core value of telemedicine in general. mHealth application providers have to ensure they are investing in the best network services possible to provide constant connectivity to patients. KORE is experienced in bringing the doctor’s office to patients through its seamless, always connected global network.