- How telemedicine is changing healthcare
- Telemedicine poised for tipping point, despite remaining hurdles
- Why Is Telemedicine Suddenly Hot?
These headlines from the last week look great. But, if telehealth is so “hot”, why is so little of it happening? Where are we exactly in implementation of telemedicine?
The numbers show movement in the adoption of telehealth in terms of consumer use:
The number of payers reimbursing for telehealth is on the increase:
- The Payer Perspective On A Changing Health Care Market
- Telehealth Initiatives Funded by All Payers
- Telehealth Rules, Regulations & Reimbursements: An Update On Medicare & Medicaid Policies
- Medicare Proposes Expanded Telehealth Coverage For 2015
- Tennessee Implementing Telehealth Reimbursement Parity Law
- Maryland Medicaid Covers Telemedicine Services At Parity With Face-To-Face Services
The number of provider organizations offering telehealth services is on the increase:
- UPMC Offering ‘AnywhereCare’ Telemedicine Service Across Pennsylvania
- InnovaTel Telepsychiatry Launches Operations.
- Two-Thirds Of North Carolina Hospitals Offer Emergency Department Telepsychiatry
- New Hampshire Hospital To Open Virtual Clinic
- Mayo Clinic Offers New Telemedicine Options In Southeast Minnesota
We’ve seen some legislative and regulatory changes that support the use of telehealth:
- Medicare Lifts Requirement For Physician Travel In Light Of Advances In Telehealth
- CMS Telepsychiatry Codes Revised For New CPT Coding System; Nine New HCPCS Codes Issued
- Coalition Launches To Support Use Of Technology For Delivery Of Behavioral Services
- New Jersey Medicaid Implements Reimbursement For Telepsychiatry
- Federation Of State Medical Boards Adopts New Telemedicine Policy.
And, the studies of efficacy and estimates of savings that could be realized by our health system using telehealth continue to be released:
- Teleconferencing Could Help Urban Schools Solve A Mental Health Crisis
- Asynchronous Virtual Follow Up For Chronically Ill Patients Reduces Physician Time
- Remote Patient Monitoring Linked To 44% Drop In Hospital Admissions & 72% Drop In Hospital Charges
- Telemedicine Could Save U.S. Employers $6 Billion Annually If Percentage Of Employers Offering Health Plans That Cover Telehealth Increases To 37%
Despite all of that, my discussion last week with an executive of a health plan was interesting – and typical. The health plan has liberalized the payment for telehealth services but much to their surprise, the use of telehealth by their provider network members haven’t increased. Why? I think the answer to this is in the experience of adopting any innovation in the health and human service field (see Why Is It So Hard To Get Health & Human Service Organizations To Try Something New?). There are three issues in innovation adoption in the field. Reimbursement is one. But, the integration of the innovation into standard clinical operating processes and integration of the data from the innovation into EHRs, are the others. To get telehealth adoption to the “tipping point”, all three issues need to be addressed.
I do think we’ll see continued payer support for telehealth reimbursement. The next big issue is operational – designing new clinical operating processes that integrate telehealth. The best practices addressing that issue are the focus of the pre-institute seminar, Using Telehealth To Reduce Costs & Add Revenue: A Guide For Provider Organization Executive Teams, that will be led by my colleague Robert N. Cuyler, Ph.D., next Tuesday November 4. If you can’t make, just watch for our live coverage from the event (sign up at https://www.openminds.com/technology/pre-institute-seminar/).