WASHINGTON – There is a dire need for telehealth in the United States, but physicians might be one of the biggest obstacles to wider adoption, according to a panel at this week’s URAC Telemedicine Leadership Forum.
“Patients want it, but we know that physicians have trouble adopting new things,” said Dr. Judd Hollander, associate dean for strategic health initiatives at Thomas Jefferson University. “We can’t just put up objections; we have to figure out how things are going to work.”
The panel discussion also included: Dr. Dennis Truong of Kaiser Permanente Tysons Corner Medical Center; Dr. Tilman Jolly, chief medical officer at Specialists On Call; and Dr. Ram Srinivasan of Advanced ICU Care.
Hollander said physician objections to adopting telehealth into their practices include: their patients don’t want it; it’s not as good as an in-person visit; it’s not reimbursed; and it’s too hard.
“If you feel like you need to dot every ‘I’ and cross every ‘T’ then you probably shouldn’t be doing telehealth,” he said. “There isn’t an answer for everything in telehealth, but at the end of the day, your job is to grow the program.”
The panel was unanimous in admitting that health care is shifting away from the old fee-for-service model, and patients are demanding care when and where they want it.
“You can either try to time the change and hope you can make the right turn on a dime, or you can prepare for the change,” Hollander said.
Offering telehealth services can be a practical solution for both the provider and the patient, with the patient saving about two-thirds of the cost of an in-person or hospital visit and the provider saving one-third, said Trong.
“It’s a win-win,” he said.