Infographic: Physician Telehealth
Some 57 percent of primary care physicians are willing to conduct a video visit with a patient, according to a new infographic (click to enlarge) by American Well.
The infographic examines why physicians want to conduct video visits, potential use of telehealth by physicians and the type of video consults physicians find most valuable.
The world of digitally enabled care is exploding: the number of patients using telehealth services will rise to 7 million in 2018, according to IHS Technology; healthcare apps and 'wearables' are trending in technology circles and healthcare providers' offices; and CMS's new 'Next Generation ACO' model is expected to favor expanded telehealth coverage.
2015 Healthcare Benchmarks: Telehealth & Telemedicine delivers actionable new telehealth metrics on technologies, program components, successes and ROI from 115 healthcare organizations. This 60-page report, now in its fourth year, documents benchmarks on current and planned telehealth and telemedicine initiatives, with historical perspective from 2009 to present.
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Patients are interested in telemedicine. It offers much in time efficiency and can at times eliminate the need for an office visit, and can be more cost effective if the fee is less than a typical office visit. Some are willing to pay an office visit fee for a telehealth consultation. For the patient it saves time, travel time, and decreases daily disruptions for busy parents. Adding on travel time, and wait time it can save several hours in a day.
Some physicians also indicate an interest in telehealth for distant patients and in rural areas. However efficiencies may not work in the same manner for doctors. Staff time is a consideration. Most practices have full appointment schedules, leaving little time for telehealth, unless a F/T equivalent is added to the clinical staff. Fees generated must support the service as a profit center if it is to survive market economics. This model may function best in a clnic or group with shared services. Outsourcing telehealth may work well, however adding another intermediary can lead to errors and/or medical-legal liability.
There remain two major obstacles for telehealth to flourish.
1. Governmental regulation by state medical boards
Governmental regulation is lagging. Some state boards do not allow telehealth except in specific insances There are ingrained practice patterns and ethical issues as well as adequate examination practices via telehealth. Video telehealth would seem to assuage some of these concerns.
Insurers do not want to cover telehealth and few insureres have procedure codes to bill for telehealth. Some insurers are concerned about additional cost. MEDICARE is on the cusp of allowing telehealth. Medicare is the most conservative payor since it 'guards tax payer dollars'
Fraud and abuse are possibilities. It would be more difficult to audit and track telehealth, however there are means to integrate billing, diagnostic and procedure codes directly into a billing system.
It is time for health care to catch up with Health Information Technology. not only to store data, analytics, but to facilitate patient care.