This presentation will offer a succinct and substantive analysis of the status of VoiP technologies to train and regulate the practice of students and working professionals in the health, rehabilitation, and educational sectors.
STRENGTHS: Telemedicine, more broadly referred to as “telehealth” is an expanding industry that will continue to experience rapid growth. The global telemedicine market is estimated to reach USD 113.1 billion by 2025 (Grand View Research, Inc,) with a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 18.50%. Evidence is building that telehealth increases access to specialists, minimizes consumers’ travel time and lost wages, and reduces emergency room visits and hospitalization rates. Telehealth offers flexible full-time or part-time employment without the need to commute.
WEAKNESSES: That some consider telehealth “experimental” is slowing the progression of reimbursement parity. Telehealth training paradigms are unevenly developing across universities, professional associations, and healthcare organizations. Though telehealth was initially regarded as an altruistic, alternative service delivery model that can connect experts with patients in underserved (e.g., rural) or inaccessible locations, many professionals, and even states, regard “out of state” telepractioners as unwanted competitive incursions into their geographic regions. Therefore, it is not surprising that, with the exception of some federal employees, state professional licensure remains a barrier to delivering services to a patient outside of one’s state. Obtaining and maintaining additional state licensure can be expensive and time-consuming. Because professions are differentially developing their telehealth capabilities (e.g., infrastructure, education, and national licensure compacts) coordinated team efforts are not yet routine. Moreover, most consumers are minimally informed about the potential of telehealth, and do not yet function as advocates.
OPPORTUNITIES: Rapid growth will require both the training of future healthcare and educational professionals and the retraining of current providers. This need will be manifested at both the pre-professional and professional levels and will include telehealth managers, health information and data management personnel, and providers of rehabilitation and other healthcare services. Universities will be able to use telesupervision to oversee student training in non-local facilities, thus potentially expanding the available clinical training slots and the size of student cohorts. Interprofessional healthcare and school-based teams (including family members) will be able to serve their clients in a more coordinated, expedient, and informed manner.
THREATS: Telehealth is emerging as a global market force wherein economic growth and rapidly evolving technologies have surpassed the development of policies and regulations. While global practice presents numerous opportunities, international practice is especially unregulated. Threats include the need to ensure privacy and security in an electronic environment, and to avoid destabilizing the current in-person workforce and training paradigms.