The telemedicine space is rapidly expanding and has already begun to disrupt the traditional health care system we’ve all grown to accept.
The health care industry uses some of the most advanced technology when it comes to scientific breakthroughs, research and methods to treat sick patients. Nonetheless, when it comes to basic doctor-patient interaction, technology is heavily underutilized. There is a vast opportunity for tech-enabled health care businesses to make their way into the industry – if done correctly.
A valuable function of businesses in the telehealth market is putting convenient, personalized and compassionate care at the patient's fingertips. This industry has abundant opportunities to apply new technology to the traditional patient-centric methods of health care that have proven to be successful in the past. Take, for instance, the traditional house call.
According to GlobalData study, the worldwide telehealth and telemedicine market is forecast to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 14 percent between 2011 and 2018. According to the World Market for Telehealth (2014) report, the number of patients using telehealth services will rise from less than 350,000 people in 2013 to 7 million in 2018. Furthermore, revenue for telehealth devices and services is expected to reach $4.5 billion, up from $440.6 million in 2013.
As the co-founder and CEO of Medicast, a new doctors-on-demand mobile service that’s reinventing the traditional house call, I’ve faced many challenges when launching my business. There are three key factors essential to coming out on top in this space. Without these, an emerging health care business backed by technology cannot reach its full potential. To lay a solid foundation for expansion into the telemedicine market, I recommend companies consider the following ideas:
1. Be aware of health and development regulations on the local and national level. In the healthcare field, there are numerous rules and regulations that often inhibit innovation. There are many headwinds that hinder product development.
It’s in your best interest to work with regulatory agencies, every step of the way, to ensure the company is operating within the confines of the law. Researching possible speed bumps before they arise and being proactive, rather than reactive when it comes to the law, provides an upper hand in the industry.
If your business operates across multiple states, you need to take into consideration both federal- and state-level regulations. It is especially important for telehealth companies to analyze the laws and regulations regarding the use of the Internet, email and related technologies in the treatment of patients.
2. Educate potential consumers. Educate yourself about your consumer but also educate your consumer about you.
Related: Next-Generation House Calls
As a budding industry, many consumers are unaware of the innovative healthcare options coming into existence. However, this type of health care is one of the most patient-friendly options now on the market. It offers low-cost and convenient treatment that patients seek.
To build brand awareness, be systematic in a scalable way. When considering expansion, make sure there is demand for the business by examining population density, wellness and health index, average age, income levels and family size. Take into account the average wait times in emergency rooms and doctors’ offices. Also, consider the pool of doctors potentially interested in working with your start-up telehealth company.
3. Form mutually beneficial relationships. Build a strong network with peers in the industry. Listen to your consumers' wants and needs. That will help connect patients and doctors in a more personal way through a technology solution people actually desire and will use.
In addition to gaining the trust of consumers, it’s important to assemble a team of the best and brightest minds. The cornerstone of every successful company is a solid team. Surround yourself with colleagues who know more than you, who share the same vision of changing the future and have the drive needed to take your business to the next level.
The healthcare industry is extremely small, so never undervalue taking 15 minutes of your time to network with others and offer your valuable insight to any conversation. People will take notice want to work with you.
Pay it forward. Pass along your knowledge to other entrepreneurs in your community and beyond. As an entrepreneur, it is your duty to help to encourage innovation and further the technological advances that support your industry.