CNBC: 4 reasons telemedicine hasn't lived up to the hype

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For years, telemedicine was lauded as the "next big thing" in healthcare. However, the technology still hasn't become mainstream — in fact, the majority of patients have never used telemedicine, according to a column by CNBC reporter Christina Farr.

Here are four possible reasons telemedicine has been a "bust" so far, according to Ms. Farr:

1. Lack of awareness. Many patients in the U.S. aren't aware of available telemedicine options. Ian Tong, MD, CMO of at Doctor On Demand, told Ms. Farr he believes part of the issue is the term "telemedicine" itself, which patients may not find self-evident. Instead, he frequently uses the term "video visits."

2. Questions about cost. Many patients are deterred from using telemedicine apps because of the associated cost, which isn't always covered by health insurance, Ms. Farr writes. Some apps ask for $50 or $70 per visit, which may feel out of reach, particularly for disadvantaged populations.

3. Physician quality. Some patients have voiced concerns that the physicians who work with app developers are "inexperienced, or low-quality," according to Ms. Farr. She cited a 2016 study in which researchers who posed as patients with skin issues tested 16 different telemedicine apps. Some of the remote physicians misdiagnosed conditions or prescribed unnecessary medications.

4. In-person contact. Even among millennials, many patients want to see a physician in-person, especially when they're sick. "A smartphone app simply won't cut it," Ms. Farr writes.

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