Deloitte predicts boom in e-visits for 2014

In 2014, there will be 100 million e-visits globally—potentially saving $5 billion when compared to the cost of in-person physician visits, predicts Deloitte in a recent report.

This would represent a growth of 400 percent from 2012 levels. North America is most likely to embrace e-visits, where there could be up to 75 million e-visits in 2014, which is one-fourth of the market.

Deloitte researchers argue that 2014 should see an “inflection point” in the adoption of e-visits, primarily due to changes in technology and telecommunications infrastructure, as well as continued pressure to reduce medical costs and improve care. Also, advances in analytics to automate the back office elements of e-visits could facilitate its growth.

Unlike a tradition face-to-face visits utilizing a web camera, most e-visits likely will be more functional and focus on capturing patient information through forms, questionnaires and photos. “For example, patients with symptoms of certain illnesses such as sinusitis, strep throat, allergies bladder infection or acne would complete an online form and then receive a diagnosis and, if required, a prescription,” according to the report.

More complex diagnoses and treatments will remain in the domain of face-to-face encounters, the authors said.

"Although the initial benefit of e-visits may be saving billions of dollars, over time the greater good may come from saving tens of millions of lives,” concluded the report.

Read it here.