Cheaper telecommunications solutions give telemedicine tremendous boost

New York 23 November 1999As the overall costs of telecommunications and computing decline, the telemedicine market is bracing itself for healthy growth. The increased affordability of deploying telemedicine programmes, which is combined with a heightening versatility of telecommunication technologies offers abundant opportunities in the young market. Frost & Sullivan's strategic research, "U.S. Telemedicine System and Service Markets", examines this dynamic market, which grew 15.4 percent over 1997 totals to reach $108.8 million in 1998.

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"The number of telemedicine programmes throughout the United States is growing, and they are encompassing an increasing number of medical fields", Frost & Sullivan research manager Alpa Shah is claiming. Mrs. Shah attributes this growth to the broadening availability of technologies that deliver high-quality video necessary for telemedicine and to the diminishing cost of videoconferencing equipment.

The market is characterised by an ever increasing popularity of broadband systems, the modification of videoconferencing systems to satisfy industry requirements and the emergence of new transport options for telemedicine. Improved health care services to remote locations, the existence of various federal and state grants, the training and education benefits of telemedicine and the use of telemedicine networks for medical administration are all propelling the industry forward.

However, reluctance from medical professionals to embrace the technology restrains the market. Some physicians believe human contact with patients is essential to correctly assess their conditions, while others fear their own technological unfamiliarity introduces the risk of diagnostic error. A long sales process that involves educating customers is still required, according to Mrs. Shah who continues that this presents the principal challenge for the increased penetration of telemedicine.

Nonetheless, companies whose products and services are geared specifically toward the telemedicine industry, and those that train their sales personnel to sell in the health care industry will succeed in the market. The Frost & Sullivan company presents 1999 Market Engineering Awards to companies that have positively contributed to the telemedicine industry. The Customer Focus Award is presented to US West Communications. In turn, the Product Engineering Award is awarded to Tandberg, Inc. The Product Quality Award is presented to VTEL Corporation.

Frost & Sullivan constitutes an international marketing consulting as well as training company that monitors the telecommunications industry for market trends, market measurements and strategies. This ongoing research is used to complement a series of research publications, such as Videoconferencing Subscription, Distance Learning and Broadband Video, and is utilised for the support of participants with customised consulting needs. For news on more telemedicine research reporting by Frost & Sullivan, we refer to the VMW article Medical imaging service providers forced to adapt business to hospitals' one-stop shopping demand in the November 1999 issue.


Leslie Versweyveld

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