The American Telemedicine Association (ATA) released its 2017 Telemedicine Executive Leadership Survey results this month, finding that more than 83 percent of executives say they are likely to invest in telehealth this year.

The survey interviewed 171 respondents in executive leadership positions at telehealth service providers, health care practices, and hospital systems, and was developed to assess the state of the telemedicine industry from the perspective of health care executives and gauge the competitiveness of telehealth services.

Overall, the respondents are very optimistic about the future of the industry, and are focused on short-term investments to keep up with the growth. They said that increasing consumer demand will be the key way to propel the growth of the market across the next three years.

In other key findings, 98 percent of respondents said telehealth services create a competitive advantage over other organizations that do not offer it and 84 percent believe offering telehealth services strongly expands an organization’s coverage and reach.

“This executive leadership survey confirms undeniably today’s leaders view telemedicine as a major driver in transforming health care,” said ATA CEO Jonathan Linkous. “It comes as no surprise that 98 percent of survey respondents believe telehealth services create a competitive advantage, and I anticipate tremendous growth in the market as we continue to move toward more patient-centered solutions.”

Respondents also identified what they believe to be the top barriers to increased telemedicine adoption across the years. Those barriers included inadequate coverage and payments (70 percent), licensure (52 percent), and resistance to change (49 percent).

Despite these barriers, respondents are still very enthusiastic about a number of industry advancements. The report calls out patient-centered health care, streamlined EHR workflows, and online, consumer-driven services as the top advancement priorities generating excitement.

“The responses from this survey highlight the significant advantages and opportunities telehealth has to offer both now and in the future,” the report concludes. “Leaders value the well-being of the consumer and patient, and it is important to recognize this point of emphasis as the industry continues to grow…. This survey will therefore be invaluable in terms of gauging the potential for growth and increased adoption of telehealth.”

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