More Doctors Implementing Telemedicine
It’s no longer an innovative fad. Telemedicine is now mainstream and a key part of the strategy in the fight against COVID-19.
The growth of telemedicine in the last five years has been astounding. With the continual addition of Medicare codes for coverage of virtual health services, the adoption of telehealth is growing year over year. In fact, presently, some form of telemedicine is covered by Medicaid in all 50 states. In addition to this, private payer coverage for telemedicine is also growing with reimbursement in some states paralleling that of in person services. Telemedicine has taken on many shapes and forms, from urgent care delivery that is operated by companies like Teladoc to remote patient monitoring, chronic care management as well as basic prescription renewals.
In addition to expanding reimbursement coverage, doctors everyday are realizing that patient use of telemedicine is inevitable. Doctors who shy away from telemedicine, may find themselves left behind as patients may growingly choose convenient over cumbersome options when it comes to care. Given that patients use digital solutions in all aspects of their life - from banking to retail - healthcare is no different. Salesforce reported data that surveyed millennials which showed that 60% of them support the use of telehealth to eliminate in-person health visits. Telemedicine is no longer an innovative fad, it’s a necessity for most physicians to incorporate in order to meet patient demands.
Luckily for physicians, the trend towards telemedicine and digital health implementation will prove to benefit doctors and patients alike. With rates of physician burnout on the rise, digital health provides physicians with more freedom in how they choose to practice medicine. Data shows that almost ⅓ of physicians are burned out and many of them report that more control over scheduling and increase in work life balance would increase work satisfaction. While some physicians fear that telemedicine and digital solutions like artificial intelligence could “take their job”, the fact is that the American Association of Medical Colleges reported in 2018 that they anticipated a physician shortage of 120,000 by 2030. In fact, without digital health solutions, the demand would far outweigh the supply.
Implementation of telemedicine into outpatient based practices can be done in a stepwise fashion. Resources for implementation can be found at MedicineAndTech.com, a physician community focused on innovative efforts as well as telemedicine education. Telemedicine integration into current physician practices can be overwhelming for physicians who have been in practice for several years, but integrating in small stages not only allows for a cost effective process but also one that is mindful of reimbursement fluctuations by CMS and private payers. Early physician adopters of telemedicine are the doctors who will see the most benefit from this from both the standpoint of patient satisfaction and personal satisfaction.
Dr. Nagori is the Founding Physician for the telemedicine platform SimpleHealth.com. She also teaches physicians and healthcare entrepreneurs how to build out digital health initiatives, telemedicine practices, as well as advises for several healthcare start ups. She is also the conference chair for the Medicine Innovation & Entrepreneurship Conference (www.MedicineAndTech.com) and the course creator for Getting Started in Telemedicine: Masterclass for US Physicians (InnovateHealth.Teachable.com).