We have the opportunity to talk to people about telemedicine technology all the time. One of the things we are surprised by is that many healthcare providers and their staffs have some inaccurate assumptions about the value, difficulty and reimbursement process of leveraging telemedicine technology. We thought it might be worth a minute to dispel some of these persistent myths.
#1 – It is difficult to get reimbursed for telemedicine visits
For a long time, this was true, but over the last several years many states have been changing laws to require private payers to reimburse providers for visits using telemedicine technology. These so called, “parity laws” currently exist in 24 states and are pending in several more. Under these regulations, providers are reimbursed for telehealth visits as if they were done face to face.
#2 – Patients are uncomfortable with the technology
In a recent study by Software Advice, among patients who have not used a telemedicine service, 75 percent express interest in using one in lieu of an in-person medical visit. Further, 67 percent of patients, respond that using telemedicine “somewhat” or “significantly increases” their satisfaction with their medical care. As people have become more comfortable with video communications in other contexts, they have become by and large ready to leverage it as a channel for healthcare delivery.
#3 – It isn’t secure or compliant
There is some truth to this myth. Consumer grade video conferencing platforms like Skype and FaceTime are not encrypted and do not meet basic standards for securing patient information. Fortunately, there are now easy-to use professional grade platforms on the market that support HIPAA compliant video communications. These solutions, like that offered by Chiron Health, protect patient confidentiality and ensure provider compliance.
#4 – It’s too complicated
While telemedicine technology can be very sophisticated, with features like EHR integration and eligibility verification, it needn’t be complex. Like many other modern cloud-based applications, special IT knowledge is not required to install or maintain it. The best solutions provide intuitive user interfaces and easy navigation.
#5 – You can’t use it to treat new patients
Although some states do require a prior in-person relationship, many have dropped this requirement. Some have no in-person visit requirements at all, while others require or suggest an annual in-person visit with a provider. Since there are big differences between the states, it makes sense to learn more about the laws and regulations of yours.
Don’t let flawed or outdated information keep you from exploring how telemedicine technology might add value to your practice. The benefits are significant and any challenges are easy to overcome.