This from Chrissy Farr at CNBC today, Why telemedicine has been such a bust so far.
Billions of investment dollars have been poured into apps and websites that offer this virtual consultations with physicians, ranging from Doctor on Demand to American Well. The theory behind them is that millennials would opt for a digital alternative to an in-person physician’s visit, if the option were available. And patients in remote, rural areas who are miles away from the nearest doctor would have few alternatives.
But telemedicine is still far from mainstream. Even a study sponsored by a telemedicine provider from late 2017 still found that 82 percent of U.S. consumers do not use it.
It’s only a bust when our perspective is based on hyperbole. Telehealth has been positioned as either immediately around the bend or rapidly approaching mainstream.
Independent of what the telemedicine CEOs or their investors want us to believe, overturning a few hundred years of treating patients mano y mano doesn’t happen overnight. There have been measurable strides made in reimbursement. Core technology has come a long way in facilitating what will be the new context of care. And comfort with alternate means of doctor-patient communication will only lubricate the real transition to the virtual care.
But when we shape expectations with telemedicine industry press releases and Twitter linkbait from giddy, self-promoting technooptimists, we wind up with the belief that real virtual engagement should have been here a long time ago.
We’d do well to remember Amara’s law: “We tend to overestimate the effect of a technology in the short run and underestimate the effect in the long run.”