Study Shows Telemedicine Use On the Rise

Study Shows Telemedicine Use On the Rise Click to Enlarge Photo: Associated Press

(KNSI) - A new study from the University of Minnesota's School of Public Health and the Minnesota Department of Health shows a rapid statewide increase in the use of telemedicine.

Telemedicine is the use of telecommunication and information technology to provide clinical healthcare from a distance.

The study shows seven fold growth between 2010, and 2015, the last year telehealth information was available. It did not dig into the effectiveness of telemedicine, but it did find a significant jump in use.

There were 86,238 virtual visits in 2015, compared with 11,113 visits in 2010.

Patients in greater Minnesota logged more real-time visits than those in larger metro areas. According to the press release from the MDH, "Nonmetro patients in Greater Minnesota more commonly used telemedicine for real-time visits initiated by providers and included specialty consultations. For example, an emergency department physician may initiate a telemedicine visit with a neurologist for a patient suffering a stroke. Or, a primary care provider may refer a patient to a specialist to provide psychotherapy and medication management for clinical depression."

Department of Health Commissioner Jan Malcom said, "This research shows that telemedicine may be emerging as an option to overcome some of the geographical barriers of accessing specialty care in Greater Minnesota, particularly in the area of mental health."

Malcom says research will continue to ensure the quality of care is maintained, but says their research highlights the importance of "seeking innovative ways to provide access to healthcare in Greater Minnesota."