Telehealth markets – comprising of telemedicine, remote patient monitoring and mhealth – present an important area of convergence for healthcare and information, communication and technology (ICT) firms. Healthcare companies, particularly medical device manufacturers, are investing in telehealth products and services as a way of expanding their value proposition to the industry while ICT players are seeking business diversification through telehealth.
New analysis from Frost & Sullivan, Telehealth Opportunities in APAC, finds that the Asia-Pacific (APAC) market for real-time telemedicine generated revenue worth US$44.6 million in 2012 while remote patient monitoring equipment generated US$773.5 million in the same year. However, mhealth was the largest revenue contributor in 2012, with an estimated US$7.9 billion generated through voice, text and mobile services in healthcare.
"Governments across APAC are and will continue to be the major architects of the telehealth industry in this region," stated Frost & Sullivan Healthcare Industry Analyst Natasha Gulati.
Government intervention is the single most prominent feature in the industry. Initiatives range from pilot projects, grants and fund to legislations either promoting or even constructing telehealth. Private ICT infrastructure companies, software vendors, and device manufacturers see their largest opportunity in partnering with government organizations. Consumer needs, not technological advancements, define telehealth business models in APAC.
The telehealth industry in the region is different from US and Europe because the focus lies on providing equitable care to a large population rather than on business profitability and technological advancement. Under these circumstances, private companies are struggling with developing sustainable business models that ensure long-term profitability even if government funding stops.
In order to establish such business models and penetrate new markets, ICT companies are partnering with medical device manufacturers with the aim of providing holistic telehealth solutions that address a variety of client needs, such as remote care, telemedicine and enterprise mobility. To target large public and private hospital groups successfully, telehealth companies will have to be able to communicate the value proposition of advanced communications tools and demonstrate significant returns on investment (ROIs).
"Infrastructure, equipment and service providers should invest in developing an ecosystem of telehealth products and solutions which healthcare providers can deploy in totality," said Gulati. "This will ensure better ROIs to healthcare providers as well as increase profitability of the vendor."
Telehealth models have the potential to address several challenges faced by the healthcare industry, hence, the notable interest in these technologies by all industry stakeholders.