In 1998, the telemedicine industry grew worldwide to US$13.8 billion from the previous year's $6.8 billion, thus igniting a rapidly growing trend. "Increasing consumerism, changing demographics, hardware price deflation and the proliferation of the Internet are the driving factors behind its rapid growth", as Peter Leitner states. "This estimate significantly exceeds most others because we use a broader definition of telemedicine and we assess it on a global basis."
"Over the next decade, the telemedicine industry will expand into new markets and service areas", says Leitner. "Furthermore, its rapid rise will have a profound impact on the delivery and quality of medical care worldwide. In the United States alone, we expect telemedicine will represent at least 15 percent of all health care expenditures by 2010."
To capture the full spectrum of the industry, Leitner and his firm use a new three-part "acid test" that defines telemedicine as "the use of (i) computer and telecommunications technology (ii) to provide health care of therapeutic benefit (iii) without regard to time-space." Leitner claims that these criteria address a much broader range of companies than the old definition of telemedicine, which does not include the new technologies now available to patients and providers.
The strategic research and industry insights formed by Peter Leitner and the analysts at Waterford Telemedicine Partners are detailed in the soon to be released Telemedicine Industry Report 2000, appearing as ISBN 0-9676642-0-9. Deborah R. Dakins, founding editor of Telehealth Magazine, and Leitner are the principal authors. The volume provides a comprehensive overview of the market; defines its drivers and perspectives; examines the role of providers, facilitators and infrastructure; and highlights opportunities and strategies in the telemedicine space.
Companies in the telemedicine industry are striving to increase consumer, payer and clinician familiarity with telemedicine's benefits, namely enhanced patient care and operating efficiency, according to Leitner. "Providers and payers earnestly seek these benefits especially in this era of balancing the economics and the quality of care. Patients can benefit further from increased access to health services, including measurable improvements in patient outcomes, and increased convenience. Companies poised to serve these needs will succeed in the worldwide market", as Leitner states.
The Waterford Telemedicine Index has been created by Waterford Advisors in 1997. To date, both narrow and broad versions of the index are maintained, comprised of fifty and 100 stocks, respectively. The narrow index is weighted by market capitalisation, whereas the broad index is weighted by Waterford's modified market capitalisation method. Published in November 1999, the Telemedicine Industry Report 2000 is sold at the price of $2,500. A good introduction to the report is offered in the interview VMW recently had with Peter Leitner, available in the December 1999 issue under the title Expert Peter Leitner shows great confidence in consumer of rapidly evolving telemedicine market.