More evidence of the potential and power of telemedicine emerged from a Deloitte study of patient "visits" to medical professionals' offices. Nearly 13 percent of all general practitioner appointments made in the U.S. and Canada this year will be electronic "eVisits."

Deloitte estimated that patients in North America will schedule some 600 million appointments with their general practitioner this year, and that 75 million of them will be of the electronic sort. Telemedicine — the practice of receiving, delivering or sharing medical care or information electronically — has been gathering considerable momentum in recent years, with the private sector latching on because it can save corporate dollars and also lead to better outcomes.

Deloitte concluded that such electronic consults could save $5 billion worldwide, when it extrapolated its U.S./Canada results across the globe. It said worldwide eVisits would top 100 million in 2014. That's a 400 percent increase in such consults since 2012, Deloitte said.

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Dan Cook

Dan Cook is a journalist and communications consultant based in Portland, OR. During his journalism career he has been a reporter and editor for a variety of media companies, including American Lawyer Media, BusinessWeek, Newhouse Newspapers, Knight-Ridder, Time Inc., and Reuters. He specializes in health care and insurance related coverage for BenefitsPRO.