Google’s GOOGL +1.51% recent announcement that it will provide telemedicine services was the crescendo to a swelling volume of recent interest: e.g., articles in VentureBeat, U.S. News, and The Economist. Telemedicine has been around for a generation. Why is this happening now?
Rising use of telemedicine takes different forms. Traditionally telemedicine has played the biggest role in rural areas where visits to doctors are difficult and in consultations with specialists like radiologists and oncologists where value is created by connecting a patient to the best expert. This is expanding because broadband network coverage is improving, patients and doctors are more comfortable with computers, pressure for cost savings is increasing, and an emerging policy consensus favors telemedicine. This all makes sense. But, these forces have been at play for a decade or more and hence don’t account for the current inflection point (1) of interest in telemedicine.