Study sees more telemedicine, medical tourism in 2012

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Euro RSCG released its annual crystal-ball-gazing white paper, The Big Little Book of Nexts: Trendspotting for 2012, in October.

At 158 pages, it's not exactly little, but the paper does pull together insights from a tech-forward healthcare advertising business. Among its five trends for health:

• Increasing medical tourism as hard times drive growth of 25% to 35% per year, according to Patients Beyond Borders, with adventurous types traveling to Hungary for dental surgery, or Thailand for elective surgery.

• A spike in telemedicine, providing a means of sending scans and tests for analysis, remote monitoring of chronic conditions and real-time interaction through teleconsultations.

• “Cyberchondria,” patients self-diagnosing based on what they see on the Web and then clogging up doctors' offices.

• Personalized medicine is coming online, with more targeted drugs, more accurate dosing and, hopfeully, better safety and outcomes.

• Diabetes' status as the center of gravity in healthcare will accelerate, says Euro, noting that Centers for Disease Control data  estimate that 79 million US adults have prediabetes.

“The transformation of health will continue to accelerate, getting bigger as companies scale beyond traditional borders and also smaller as more targeted therapies and communications come to the fore,” says Larry Mickelberg, digital guru at Havas Worldwide Health. “The result is the creation of live global ecosystems of data, help and service. We have the opportunity to marry these new streams with more traditional health communications and power better health experiences.”

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