Challenges to Telehealth Adoption

Challenges to Telehealth Adoption

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The ability to provide quality services to those living in limited resource areas is one of the greatest barriers in healthcare today.  Telehealth provides a feasible solution to this problem given the available technology.  Telehealth solutions continue to become easier and more user-friendly while the associated fees and costs become more affordable.  Therefore, why is telehealth not used more frequently by providers and patients?

The issue of reimbursement remains one of the greatest roadblocks to the adoption of telehealth.  Healthcare currently uses a fee-for-service pricing model that allows every service a patient receives to be priced and paid for separately.  Conversely, the services provided through telehealth, such as email, are difficult to price, track and reimburse.

This fee-for-service model makes it difficult not only for providers, but also for insurance companies and patients alike.  It is difficult for insurance companies to provide coverage without accurate pricing and tracking from physicians and without insurance coverage many patients can’t afford to take advantage of these services.  It is a vicious cycle and the patient’s quality of care suffers.

Hope for change is available!  Our healthcare system continues to constantly change and there is a clear shift away from the fee-for-service model to a new managed care payment model.  The new managed care model provides patients with a system of healthcare where they agree to visit only certain doctors and hospitals while a managing company monitors the cost of treatment.  This new model allows services to be bundled and costs to be reduced.  Thus, tracking the individual services provided by telehealth becomes a non-issue to patients, providers, and insurers.  This full-service system provides patients with the care they need and providers with the tools needed to effectively provide those services.

Easy enough, right?  Unfortunately, nothing is ever simple in healthcare.  Today, at least 12 states   legally require insurers to cover telehealth services.  A big step in the right direction!   The next challenge ahead; pointing everyone in the same direction.   The unfortunate reality is that while new states are adopting telehealth guidelines all the time, each of these states’ guidelines differs on which telehealth services require coverage.

We need consistency, clarity, and patience.  Changing pricing models and insurance laws will not happen overnight, it will take time and effort.  I see progress and the promise of a better healthcare future!  Can you see it?

~ Michelle Burton

For more information about Telehealth and ways to incorporate it into your business, Click Here.