Hospitals Look to Telehealth for Strategic Advantage

According to recent data from the American Hospital Association, 42% of US hospitals have telehealth capabilities. The AHA survey probed which types of hospitals are the most likely to implement telehealth and why. The findings have direct implications to vendors and service providers who are trying to prioritize their targeting and marketing strategies.

According to the survey, rates of telehealth adoption are influenced by a variety of strategic considerations. For example, rural hospitals face unique challenges that telehealth can help them to overcome. Additionally rural hospitals have access to federal funds to improve care accessibility, and as a result they may be more likely to provide telehealth than hospitals in some urban areas. Teaching hospitals equipped with advanced medical technology, hospitals that are part of a larger health system and nonprofits also have higher rates of telehealth adoption, possibly because the technology offers a way to deliver a full range of services to patients from any location, increasing access as well as revenue. The study also found that hospitals in more competitive markets may be adopting telehealth as a way to distinguish themselves from their competitors.

One of the key strategic factors influencing the decision to adopt telehealth is state policies. The survey found that policies that promote private payer reimbursement for telehealth are associated with greater likelihood of telehealth adoption, while policies that require out-of-state providers to have a special license to provide telehealth services reduce the likelihood of adoption.

According to a recent forecast by IBISWorld, revenue in the telehealth services industry is expected to increase by an annualized 30% to $320.2 million in the next five years, including revenue growth of 23% in 2014.

As service providers and marketers pursue the hospital segment, they do well to keep in mind that telehealth adoption is shaped by the perceived strategic advantages that telehealth offers hospitals. The marketers most likely to succeed will be those who leverage these insights to create compelling and distinctive marketing strategies.