Telehealth – the use of communications technology and computer networks to deliver health care – has been the focus of a lot of press in the past few months. In case you’ve missed them, these are just a few of the headlines OPEN MINDS has covered:
- Walgreens Expands Telehealth Platform To Offer Virtual Doctor Visits Through MDLIVE Via Walgreens Mobile App
- CVS Health To Expand Telemedicine Services
- UnitedHealthcare & Walgreens Collaborate On Mobile App
- Genoa, a QoL Healthcare Company Acquires 1DocWay
- WellCare, Georgia Telehealth Partnership Open School-Based Health Centers
- Molina Healthcare Adds Online Access To Behavioral Health
- Humana & AMC Health Launch Post-Discharge Telehealth Program For Medicare Members
- Ohio Debuts Telehealth Stations From Rite Aid & HealthSpot
- Cleveland Clinic Launches MyCare Online
But the question many of the attendees at The 2015 OPEN MINDS Technology & Informatics Institute had during my presentation, Next Generation Service Delivery: The Future Of Telehealth Technology, was where are we now with telehealth? I presented a few “eye-opening” statistics that answer that question – and that show broad receptivity to the concept of telehealth.
Industry adoption – 67% of health care professionals (physicians + others) are either using some form of telemedicine now, or are planning to in the next few years. In addition, the number of employers offering telemedicine is expected to rise 68% in 2015 (analysts have estimated this will result in $6 billion in employer savings).
Consumer adoption – 64% of Americans would be willing to have a video visit with a physician; At least 70% of consumers reported that they’d rather have an online video visit to obtain a prescription than travel to their prescriber’s office; 30% of parents with children under the age of 18 would prefer a video visit with a physician for middle-of-the-night care over traditional options, such as the emergency room or a nurse line; and 62% of Americans believe that online visits with a physician should cost less than in-person care.
Outcomes – 91% of health outcomes were as good or better via telehealth.
But receptivity is different than utilization. And while the adoption of telehealth has been moving unevenly across payers and geography, the landscape is evolving. Earlier this year, my colleague Monica E. Oss put together a great report on the many legislative developments in telehealth around the United States – Telehealth Legislation – Filling In The Crazy Quilt. But there have been significant changes in the landscape since then. A few of the changes include:
- Texas To Reimburse For School-Based Medicaid Telemedicine Services
- Arkansas Adopts Telemedicine Payment Parity Bill
- New York Medicaid Implements Reimbursement Parity For Telehealth
- Ohio Medicaid Implements Reimbursement For Telemedicine Services
- Alabama Medical Board Suspends In-Person Visit Rule As Prerequisite For Telehealth
- Massachusetts Medicaid Proposes Rates For Remote Patient Monitoring: $50 For Installation & $10 For Daily Monitoring
Individually, none of these developments will alter the landscape significantly. But, they are signs that the health and human service system is moving closer to the tipping point (see Telehealth Tipping Point, 24 States Have Telehealth Parity Reimbursement Laws, and Preparing For The Telehealth Tipping Point). The question for executive teams is whether widespread adoption of telehealth will be a strategic opportunity or a threat to an existing business model. Will your organization be able to use these new technologies in ways that give you a competitive advantage? Or will that advantage go to your competitors?
While you think about that question, stay tuned. Tomorrow, I’m going to move beyond the tipping point and look at new technologies that are just now coming into the telehealth space.