The Reality of Virtual Care
Telemedicine is removing geographical boundaries and bringing patients and providers together.
This article first appeared in the April 2015 issue of HealthLeaders magazine.
Virtual care is not a new idea. Videoconferencing dates back several decades. Remote monitoring in ICUs began more than a decade ago. Telestroke and remote behavioral health programs have been on the radar in many settings for years.
But two major factors have given virtual care a big boost in the past year. Healthcare's notorious inefficiency is pushing health systems to balance workloads and workflows, erasing distance and time as limiting factors on the provision of care—using virtual care to do much of the balancing. Second, telemonitoring technology is providing improved ease of use and simplicity, while more attractive price points and performance capabilities are driving virtual care innovation into all of healthcare's costly nooks and crannies.
Forty-six states and the District of Columbia offer some form of Medicaid payment for telemedicine services, according to the American Medical Association—though Medicaid payment for more advanced uses, such as remote patient monitoring, is available in only 14 states.