Making the business case for telemedicine: an interactive spreadsheet

Telemed J E Health. 2006 Apr;12(2):99-106. doi: 10.1089/tmj.2006.12.99.


The objective of this study was to demonstrate the business case for telemedicine in nonrural areas. We developed an interactive spreadsheet to conduct multiple financial analyses under different capital investment, revenue, and expense scenarios. We applied the spreadsheet to the specific case of poststroke rehabilitation in urban settings. The setting involved outpatient clinics associated with a freestanding rehabilitation hospital in Oklahoma. Our baseline scenario used historical financial data from face-to-face encounters as the baseline for payer and volume mix. We assumed a cost of capital of 10% to finance the project. The outcome measures were financial breakeven points and internal rate of return. A total of 340 telemedicine visits will generate a positive net cash flow each year. The project is expected to recoup the initial investment by the fourth year, produce a positive present value dollar return of more than $2,000, and earn rate of return of 20%, which exceeds the hospital's cost of capital. The business case is demonstrated for this scenario. Urban telemedicine programs can be financially self-sustaining without accounting for reductions in travel time by providers or patients. Urban telemedicine programs can be a sound business investment and not depend on grants or subsidies for start-up funding. There are several key decision points that affect breakeven points and return on investment. The best business strategy is to approach the decision as whether or not to build a new clinic.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Accounting / methods
  • Efficiency, Organizational / economics*
  • Humans
  • Oklahoma
  • Outpatient Clinics, Hospital / economics*
  • Stroke Rehabilitation
  • Telemedicine / economics*