With 2017 having come to a close, many organizations are looking back on the year to see what trends have arisen and will continue to expand in the future. Nowhere is this more evident than with telehealth, the fast-growing modern medical technique in which patients and providers can connect over the internet from miles away. This past year saw a marked increase in telemedicine services and awareness, but there is still a long way to go before virtual healthcare will be a common acceptance amongst the general public.

On the positive side, provider feelings toward telehealth have improved dramatically. According to a recent paper published by telemedicine company Avizia, the amount of providers who see telehealth as a viable solution has risen substantially from 40% in 2016 to 70% in 2017. The reasons for the increased acceptance were varied, with providers citing everything from accessibility to affordable cost (the latter of which was responsible for 10% of the providers who changed their attitude on telehealth during the past year).

Unfortunately, the benefits of telemedicine are still far from common knowledge on the patient side of the equation. A full 82% of patients either have reservations toward telehealth or have never heard of it at all. Many report that they don’t understand how their insurance will cover telemedicine, and even more are hesitant about how comfortable they would feel during a virtual encounter. With any luck, though, the testament of current telehealth patients will slowly influence the opinions of others. Though only 18% of patients currently endorse telehealth, 59% of them praise the convenience, and 55% enjoy the increased speed of the service.

As telehealth services continue to grow, chances are they will find their way to your practice in the near future. To make sure you and your coworkers are prepared, be sure to stay up-to-date on current telemedicine topics so that your practice can continue to provide the best care possible.