Telemedicine Technology Use Gaining Mainstream Acceptance
Home care providers, like everyone else in the healthcare industry, will probably be affected by telemedicine at some point in the not-too-distant future. This virtual form of interaction between patients and physicians is becoming more common, and this year, 42 states were involved in legislation regarding telemedicine. (1)
In fact, the American Medical Association (AMA) announced last month that it wants medical schools across the country to incorporate telemedicine training in their programs so doctors-in-training are ready to meet future telemedicine demands as technology advances. (2) How are you, as a home care or specialty provider, prepared for the future of telemedicine?
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Today, more and more patients and care providers are communicating via their smart phones, tablets, and computers using webcams and video chat apps like FaceTime, Skype, and Snapchat. In addition, new devices that relay health-related information, such as blood pressure, heart rate, and other vital signs, from patients to their care providers are helping to manage chronic conditions more carefully and conveniently.
According to American Telemedicine Association data reported by the Wall Street Journal, there were 1 million virtual doctor visits in 2015, and the number is expected to reach 1.2 million in 2016. Although the majority of users are hospitals, more than half of U.S. physician groups reported that they have some type of telemedicine program. And because large employers are getting on board with benefits—jumping from 48% of large employers in 2015 to 74% in 2016—virtual medical consultations are likely to continue increasing. (3)
In the home care field, including specialty pharmacy, home infusion, and HME (particularly those who provide oxygen, CPAP machines, etc.), video check-ins and remote monitoring devices could prove valuable. With advances in technology allowing you to view your patients as clearly as if you were face-to-face, you could easily answer questions and address issues. With the AMA giving the go-ahead and payers approving more tele-treatments, it’s time to start thinking about how you could use telemedicine in your business and what types of technology investments would be required.