Telemedicine has long been touted as a means of making healthcare more accessible and cost-effective. However, forces have never really come together to make it happen on a large scale. This year things may be changing. Here are 5 disruptive trends Sande Olson, healthcare marketing communications and business development executive, says are bringing things to the tipping point:
1. Reimbursement for telemedicine
Lack of reimbursement is one of the most often cited reasons for why telemedicine hasn’t taken off. However, this is changing as more states propose laws requiring reimbursement for telehealth services. Medicare and Medicaid are also slowly becoming open to allowing reimbursement for more telehealth services.
2. Physician licensing portability
Physician licensing has traditionally been in the hands of state medical boards, thus the difficulty in practicing medicine across state borders. While licensing continues to be a problem. The VA, however, made it possible for physicians to treat our veterans across state lines. Furthermore, it is encouraging veterans to use telemedicine by eliminating the co-pay for veterans that see a health provider via video conference.
3. Interoperability in Health Information Exchange (HIE)
Another big headache for health providers is the inability for competing Electronic Health Record (EHR) systems to exchange information. This may be changing as popular EHR vendors like McKesson and Cerner look to work together.
4. Physician frustrations
With health care becoming increasingly regulated, the single physician practice is becoming increasingly rare and difficult to afford. Concierge medicine is on the rise, increasing 25% in 2012, and doctors are moving on to “larger practices, hospitals…or…other roles in health care.” With the Affordable Care Act going into effect, many are concerned about a shortage of primary care doctors.
5. Growing demand for telehealth services
We’re living in a time when it’s normal for coworkers to live halfway around the world from each other, when shopping and education can be done online, when tricorders are a reality, and the smartphone is a tool for health care . More and more, people will also expect it to be just as easy and convenient to see a physician.
- Smartphones: The Future of Health Care – NBC Interview with top U.S. physician Dr. Eric Topol [VIDEO]
- Health Care Beware: Using Skype, Google, WebEx Could Get You a 1.5M HIPAA Fine (VSee blog)
Photo courtesy: Graham and Sheila via Flickr