Walgreens, one of the nation’s largest drugstore chains, is making big moves to meet their consumers’ growing demand for digital convenience when it comes to healthcare. The company and telehealth provider MDLive have announced they will be adding 20 additional states to their virtual care system, bringing the total to 25 states.
Healthcare systems and companies like Walgreens are working to keep up with rapidly evolving technology and the implementation of telehealth is a start. Telehealth and other similar technologies provide long distance access to physicians and healthcare through telecommunication services. These types of technologies deliver services such as real-time-communication and store-and-forward. Real-time-communication services let patients speak with nurse practitioners and physicians through a live video link. This type of technology can help with easier access to physician care among consumers. Walgreens and MDLive will give their customers 24/7 access to a network of board certified physicians. This creates an increase in contact between providers and patients with faster and enhanced care. Telehealth also offers store-and-forward services which provide patients with the delivery of radiology and dermatology digital imaging to secondary facilities for diagnosis. This type of digital imaging system will help decrease the amount of unnecessary patient visits by allowing a primary healthcare physician to send images to a dermatology specialist who then reports back with a diagnosis for the primary care physician to administer treatment. The benefits of telehealth are immense. Not only does telehealth deliver digital convenience to its consumers, it also helps to decrease unnecessary referrals. Telehealth accomplishes this by creating healthcare opportunities to patients in more rural areas that may not have easily accessible care through telecommunication. This also results in a decrease in the number of physicians and healthcare providers who must travel to these rural areas to treat patients. This would in turn lead to an overall reduction in costs for providers. Although the benefits that these telehealth services provide seem promising, there are still some questions around how these types of technologies will last long term.
The benefits of this system seem vast but the success of telehealth systems is dependent on how the product is implemented across different communities. This requires taking a look at which communities might benefit most from telecommunication services and deciding the cost-effectiveness of this type of service. Hospitals and healthcare companies who do decide to implement telehealth must also have access to a high speed connectivity to support these live video appointments. These issues do seem small compared to the possible advantages that telehealth can provide to hospitals, health systems, and their patients.
Definitive Healthcare actively tracks all telehealth services and similar technologies, like telemedicine, through our hospital database. Telemedicine provides a narrower amount of services compared to telehealth. Its main services are live video chats to educate and treat patients. Telehealth does that plus remote monitoring of vital signs and physicians are able to prescribe medications easily. In order to track all these different tech categories and vendors, Definitive follows which hospitals and health systems are using vendors like MDLive for their telecommunication services. Definitive Healthcare also tracks different news articles and news details to watch for new announcements from companies who have implemented telehealth systems or from companies who are looking to implement them. Currently, Definitive is tracking over 700 hospitals and health systems using telemedicine –but they represent less than 10% of all hospitals, indicating that there is significant room for growth in this market. The largest health systems using telemedicine and the vendors that they use, are shown below.
Although the number of hospitals and health systems using this technology is still small, it is sure to grow in the coming years. Definitive will continue to track this market and be your best source for new implementation data.
Definitive Healthcare has the most up-to-date, comprehensive and integrated data on hospitals, physicians and other healthcare providers. Our hospital database tracks nearly 7,300 US hospitals and includes telehealth and other technology applications utilized.