In Germany the market of telemedicine is likely to be liberalized (currently it in Germany it is only allowed to treat / advise patients over video calls when there was prior a personal contact.). This includes e.g. video chats with patients in order to make tele-diagnosis and to replace and/or reduce home visits. The liberalization of the market will cause a strong competition between start ups and huge companies like Google and MS who are already very active in this market (in US).
Background of the planned liberalization is the lack of medical doctors and the concentration of medical doctors in huge cities. Hence especially in rural areas tele medicine would be an advantage and could save a lot of time and costs for both, patients and medical doctors.
Currently a start up company in Munich, teleclinic, developed an app with the same name which connects more than 200 doctors who can be contacted by patients for therapy and advise. However, in this market is high competition on going. In US the products “Doctor on demand” – driven by Google – and MDLive – driven by Microsoft – are the market leaders. Small start ups have here little chances to find a place, and Palacin – co-founder of teleclinic – states that soon Google and Microsoft will conquer the German market as well. The only hurdle is the very complex health system, which may cause troubles in a fast implementation and may give local start ups with local know-how an advantage.
Telemedicine involves that patients are willing to share their personal health data with big companies such as Google or Microsoft. It is open if this will be the case. Nevertheless nobody really expects that tele medicine will replace normal face-to-face meetings with medical doctors but will only amend the offered services.
Another question is payment. Therefore in Germany since 2017 the health insurance accepts also advise given per video which is payed per hour.