We have the pleasure of speaking to many providers and consumers about how telemedicine software is transforming the healthcare landscape. Although the approach is anything but new, recent advances in internet and mobile technologies, as well as changes to reimbursement laws and policies, are allowing many people to experience it for the first time. Providers and patients alike have some preconceived notions about telehealth. Some of them are accurate, others – well, not so much. Let’s take a minute to sort through the fact and fiction.
Fiction: The practice of telemedicine requires expensive, dedicated equipment, with providers at the remote site.
Fact: While this may have been the case in the past, modern telemedicine software runs on the computers, smartphones and tablets that patients and providers use every day. The high-speed internet connections and high-definition cameras on today’s devices enable providers to safely and effectively perform remote visits with no special equipment at all.
Fiction: Skype, Facetime and other consumer applications work fine for video visits.
Fact: These consumer grade applications are not designed to meet the strict security and privacy requirements of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), and thus are not appropriate for use in clinical visits. Telemedicine software that has been designed with encryption and other features to ensure the confidentiality of patient information is required.
Fiction: Providers don’t get reimbursed for video visits
Fact: To date, 24 states have enacted laws that require payers to reimburse providers for video visits in parity with in person visits. Many others are considering similar legislation. It’s not just the states that realize the value of telehealth. Several major insurers have policies that provide for reimbursement of video visits even in states that do not require it. The most advanced telemedicine software solutions include eligibility verification to ensure that providers are reimbursed.
Fiction: Telemedicine can’t be used for new patients
Fact: Actually, that depends. Although some states do require a prior in-person relationship, many have dropped this requirement. Several states have no in-person visit requirements at all, while others require or suggest an annual in-person visit with a provider. In order to know for sure, you’ll have to look into the regulations of your state.
Fiction: Patients won’t use it
Fact: The data actually indicate that people are ready and willing to adopt the approach. In one study, 75 percent expressed interest in using video in lieu of an in-person medical visit. For patients who have tried it, 67 percent respond that using telemedicine “somewhat” or “significantly” increases their satisfaction with their medical care. The growing popularity of online only medical providers is another indication that the public is ready to embrace telehealth.
Telemedicine software has opened the door to a way of delivering healthcare that is efficient, convenient and cost-effective. The benefits for providers and patients alike are profound. Whenever we hear statements that are incorrect or out of date, we like to gently set the record straight. We hope you’ll do the same.