The Purpose of Telemedicine and Its Associated Life Cycle
The Anchor Hospital, a private health care institution located in Atlanta, Georgia, offers telemedical services for its customers (Anchor Hospital, 2014). Telemedicine is a service that utilizes telecommunication technologies to provide patients who are not able to get to the hospital with medical care at a distance. This remote health care can be of various types, for instance, tele-geriatric care (Merrell & Doarn, 2015), teleradiology, teledermatology, telepathology, telepsychiatry, telecardiology, telerheumatology, tele-infectious disease treatment, and so on (Krupinski & Weinstein, 2013).
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The commercial purpose of telemedicine is rather clear: to allow the hospital to provide its patients with medical service in cases when these clients cannot arrive at the hospital or cannot stay there. This allows health care institutions to “cover” a considerably greater area and to make profits in cases where without telemedicine there would be none. In addition, the hospital might also attract clients from rural areas who need medical attention and would choose another hospital, one that is closer to their home, but would still not be able to stay there or visit it on a regular basis.
Telemedicine has been used by health care institutions for a while (Siminerio, Ruppert, Huber, & Toledo, 2014); in fact, Kahn (2015) points out that it was introduced more than three decades ago. Therefore, it might be possible to state that this service is currently not at the introduction stage. It is arguable that telemedicine is at the stage of growth nowadays, for the technologies which permit for remote diagnosing and treatment are currently developing, there is still much that remains to be invented and introduced, and telemedicine is yet to expand (Kahn, 2015).
Improving the Marketing Mix of the Anchor Hospital
The marketing mix is comprised of product, price, promotion, and place (Valenzuela-Abaca, 2014, p. 14). Clearly, in order to improve the marketing mix of the service of telemedicine, the Anchor Hospital will have to implement new technologies which allow for a more effective provision of remote healthcare (product). In the case of telemedicine, it is apparent that the issue of the place is irrelevant. Price, on the other hand, might be improved. However, in this paper, a way to improve promotion is offered.
Promotion of telemedicine service in the Anchor Hospital might be enhanced by using the Internet resources, in particular, social networks such as Facebook and LinkedIn. Due to the fact that telemedicine uses the modern communication technologies, it is likely that a most of the potential clients who can be provided with telemedical service have access to such networks. In addition, it might be recommended to increase the frequency of mentioning that the Anchor Hospital provides telemedicine, for rather little information about it can be found on the Web; mostly, the source of information about it is the hospital’s website, and the information is rather general (Anchor Hospital, 2014).
When considering the hospital’s portfolio, it is clear that telemedicine might significantly increase the attractiveness of the services provided by Anchor Hospital for customers from remote areas if these services may be obtained at a distance. Therefore, the portfolio becomes significantly more attractive for remote clients thanks to telemedical service (Kahn, 2015), which means that promoting it in remote areas might increase the demand for many other services offered by this hospital among such clients.
Because thanks to telemedicine patients may be able to use the services of almost any health care specialist in a variety of situations when their physical presence is not required, this provides the Anchor Hospital with a differential advantage. For instance, a patient from a distant area may choose to use the services of this hospital if they need to be admitted as an inpatient, but after the discharge will require regular follow-up. Another example: the hospital may remotely provide consultations to patients who need the help of a medical professional, but do not require their physical presence. Therefore, it is important to inform such potential clients that the Anchor Hospital provides these services, which corroborates the need to enhance the promotion of telemedicine by this health care institution.
The Importance of Technology
Technology plays a critical role in supplying clients with information about telemedical services. In fact, for telemedicine, it is important to inform patients that this service is offered, and also about the kind of medical services that the hospital offers remotely. This is best done via online channels, since it is likely this is where clients who can use at least certain aspects of telemedicine are likely to seek such service.
Technology is also crucial for providing customers with information about health care organizations in general. It would be difficult or impossible to make such detailed information as can be supplied online accessible to masses without the use of IT technologies. Brief information could be provided, but it would perhaps be insufficient for clients to make well-informed choices.
Outlining a Survey for Capturing Clients’ Expectations about Telemedicine
A survey for identifying patients’ expectations regarding telemedicine might include questions about possible costs (including the need to purchase equipment, which may be the case for certain types of telemedicine), the type of medical services that they want to obtain remotely, the time at which they would wish to be able to get the service, the possible training they would need so as to use telemedicine, and the quickness of the hospital’s response to a patient’s request for services (Chang, Chen, & Chang, 2009).
Anchor Hospital. (2014). Programs & services. Web.
Chang, J.-Y., Chen, L.-K., & Chang, C.-C. (2009). Perspectives and expectations for telemedicine opportunities from families of nursing home residents and caregivers in nursing homes. International Journal of Medical Informatics, 78(7), 494-502.
Kahn, J. M. (2015). Virtual visits–confronting the challenges of telemedicine. The New England Journal of Medicine, 372(18), 1684-1685. Web.
Krupinski, E. A., & Weinstein, R. S. (2013). Telemedicine in an academic center–the Arizona Telemedicine Program. Telemedicine Journal and E-Health: The Official Journal of the American Telemedicine Association, 19(5), 349-356. Web.
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Merrell, R. C., & Doarn, C. R. (2015). Geriatric telemedicine. Telemedicine Journal and E-Health: The Official Journal of the American Telemedicine Association, 21(10), 767-768. Web.
Siminerio, L., Ruppert, K., Huber, K., & Toledo, F. G. S. (2014). Telemedicine for reach, education, access, and treatment (TREAT): Linking telemedicine with diabetes self-management education to improve care in rural communities. The Diabetes Educator, 40(6), 797-805. Web.
Valenzuela-Abaca, F.-R. (2014). Marketing: A snapshot. Frenchs Forest, NSW: Pearson Higher Education Australia.