Doctors' Virtual Consults With Patients To Double By 2020

Thanks to expanding health insurance coverage, the number of virtual video consultations between primary health care providers and their patients will double in five years in the U.S., fueling the nation's telehealth boom, according to a new analysis.

A new report from information and analytics firm IHS says video consultations will jump overall to nearly 27 million in the U.S. market, driven by the primary care market where insurance coverage is rapidly widening. IHS projects there will be cumulative annual growth of nearly 25% a year over the next five years to 5.4 million video consultations between primary care providers and their patients by 2020 from this year's 2 million video consultations, IHS says.

“We’ve seen growth in reimbursement,” Roeen Roashan, medical technology analyst with IHS said in an interview. “There’s no doubt payers are focused on virtual consultations. They are really pushing it.”

Health plans see a way for patients to get high quality care from a physician and the potential to avoid a more expensive trip to a hospital emergency room. It also may be a