Telemedicine in 2016

Everyone’s been publishing their 2016 predictions and trends to watch in healthcare. Wearables, big data, patient monitoring, ACO’s, and of course telemedicine are all top of the list. When I was just starting MyDerm Portal, I had much more time to think about predictions and the market. This past year has been a little different as you might imagine. I’ve been deep in the weeds: learning how to acquire customers, how those customers engage with patients on our telemedicine platform, and enhancing our product to optimize use.

One thing which is abundantly apparent is that engaging patients to use telemedicine is probably the most important factor in accelerating telemedicine’s adoption. Building physician awareness about telemedicine is not complete but has definitely been solved. Ask any doctor if they’ve received an email about telemedicine today. Doctors are being bombarded with telemedicine platforms–I know, because we’re one of those companies constantly knocking on the door.

The next step, is educating patients. If you’ve been living in the telemedicine world a while, as I have, it is easy to get lulled into thinking that everyone knows about it–well this past year knocked me back into reality. Ask anybody what an Apple watch or Fitbit does and they’ll immediately tell you. Ask about telemedicine though and you’ll probably get a pause. Well funded companies are blowing through cash to onboard doctors onto their system and then those doctors are left with an expensive, underutilized platform without any help. There have been a lot of grumblings about Teladoc’s per-member-per-month fee. They claim it is used for marketing to help their customers increase patient engagement. If that’s true, then I get it!

What we’ve learned at MyDerm Portal is that onboarding a new customer is very much just the beginning. Now we’re partners. Now we need to help them realize the value of telemedicine. That means helping them educate and raise the awareness of telemedicine to their patients. For us, 2016 means maximizing the patient engagement of our customers!