Reimbursement Remains a Challenge
"One service line with one or two remote locations is not going to be a tenable model," Bakalar said. "It's multiple non-sustainable projects that will give telehealth a bad name."
When asked about telemedicine challenges, REACH survey respondents pointed most often to reimbursement, which accounted for the top four unaddressed challenges to telemedicine:
- Medicare reimbursement
- inadequate telemedicine parity laws
- Medicaid reimbursement
- private payer reimbursement
Challenges related to EMR systems, such as lack of integration with current a EHR/EMR, and difficulty determining ROI, were also named among the top obstacles.
When it comes to the "why" of telemedicine, the top answer can be summed up in one word: Patients.
The REACH Health survey showed that patient-oriented objectives were the most common for telemedicine programs. Respondents were asked to rate their telemedicine program priorities, and the highest ranked objectives were improving patient outcomes, increasing patient engagement and satisfaction, and improving patient convenience.
Lower on the list were several subjects often discussed along with telemedicine, such as providing 24x7 access to specialists and reducing ED overcrowding.
Patients were also linked with ROI. In fact, when asked to rank their key contributors to ROI for their telemedicine programs, the top answer in both 2016 and 2017 was "improved patient satisfaction" followed by "keeping patients within our healthcare system."
Alexandra Wilson Pecci is an editor for HealthLeaders.