‘It’s a new way to practice medicine and manage populations’
BOSTON – Health care organizations have overcome past trepidation and are now embracing the potential of telemedicine, according to a recent survey conducted by the law firm Foley & Lardner LLP.
About 75% of respondents to the 2017 Foley Telemedicine and Digital Health Survey currently offer or plan to offer telemedicine services, and more than half said their programs were growing or expanding. Three years ago, 87% of survey respondents said they did not expect their patients to be using telemedicine services by 2017.
“Health care organizations have realized telemedicine is not just a fad or pilot project,” said Nathaniel Lacktman, chairman of Foley & Lardner’s telemedicine industry team, in a blog post about the report. “It’s a new way to practice medicine and manage populations.”
Nearly all of the survey’s respondents said telemedicine was spurring expansion of their digital health services, including mobile health apps, remote patient monitoring and personal health records. Organizations also indicated strong interest in additional digital solutions for monitoring patient compliance.
Reimbursement remains a challenge, as it did when the last Foley & Lardner survey was done in 2014.
Almost 60% of respondents said third-party reimbursement was a challenge; however, a large majority said some or all of their telemedicine services are now reimbursed, compared with just 41% in 2014. Further, more than 50% of respondents said they plan to adopt remote patient monitoring services, even though just 15% are being reimbursed.
“Third-party reimbursement needs to catch up, and Congress needs to change the rules for Medicare,” said Monica Chmielewski, co-chair of Foley & Lardner’s life sciences industry team, in the survey report.
The survey also found that health care organizations are slow to adopt artificial intelligence as a means to monitor population health, although they see promise in it.
“Respondents are not so enthusiastic about using digital technology to replace the skills of human providers—at least not yet,” the report said.