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This decade was considered a maturation of the field in both outpatient and inpatient telehealth. By the end of the first decade, telehealth outpatient services included nearly every possible outpatient clinical service. Programs existed in all 50 states of the United States and around the world, and programs were actively expanding services, specialties, and the number of sites being served. Another area of telemedicine that expanded significantly during this decade was tele-ICU. By 2010, more than 5,000 intensive care unit beds in nearly 250 hospitals were being covered via tele-ICU. x  The federal government also played a role in this field through the Office for the Advancement of Telehealth (OAT), which managed grant programs funding several clinical telehealth networks, as well as resource centers located throughout the United States. 

Innovation in telehealth continues at an exponential rate. The forerunners in this field of telehealth likely would be amazed at the state of telehealth in the current decade. Telehealth is now mainstream in many areas of healthcare and has been increasingly accepted as a preferred method of care delivery. A search of PubMed from 2010 to 2016 using the keywords “telemedicine” and “telehealth” reveals more than 11,000 papers published. In 2016, Time  magazine, in its issue on “240 reasons to celebrate America,” cited telemedicine as one of those reasons, noting that health care organizations were investing heavily in digital health. xi  About 46% of health care providers answering a Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) survey stated that in their practice they used multiple telemedicine technologies, the most popular of which was a two-way video messaging.  

State and federal policy changes are removing barriers for a flawlessly functioning technology-enabled health care system.  

The telecommunications infrastructure that was once a barrier is rapidly improving as well, with internet access speeds of 10 Mbps or greater available in 99% of the United States. 98% of Americans live in areas with 4g LTE service for mobile devices that support video. As the processing speeds of computers and mobile devices have increased and now support high-quality video, the threshold for doing telehealth is much lower than in years past. 

The new generation of healthcare providers has grown up in a digital world in which the difference between in-person and distance communication is less noteworthy. They are willing and expect that some of the healthcare providers can be conducted via telecommunication technology. Although their world and the world of the sick are very different from the early healers and patients, those early dreamers in the fields of medicine that contributed to the current state of telehealth have already clearly improved the lives of many people. We are only just beginning to realize the full potential of this growing area of health science.