Payers have a vested interest in the adoption of this technology to help lower the costs of care. Meanwhile, managed care organizations have started to incorporate online telehealth service options as part of their benefits packages, according to a survey.
A KPMG survey found that a quarter of healthcare providers surveyed found that their virtual care programs—telehealth and telemedicine—were sustainable, while 35% of providers have not yet launched programs. Approximately 40% of respondents were either in the pilot stage or starting early program investments with fewer than three full-time employees engaged in telemedicine-telehealth.
KPMG’s poll found that the biggest drivers for expediting adoption of virtual care were:
• Increase patient volumes and loyalty (29%)
• Care coordination of high-risk patients (17%)
• Reduce costs for access to medical specialists (17%)
• Meaningful use and payer incentives for adoption (13%)
• Patient requests/consumer demand (13%)
“The biggest drivers for adopting virtual care are increasing patient volumes, coordinating care and reducing costs for access to specialists,” Richard Bakalar, MD, managing director at KPMG and a member of the firm’s Global Healthcare Center of Excellence, tells Managed Healthcare Executive. “The biggest barriers to implementing telemedicine are tied to the number of technological priorities among providers [19%], organizational readiness [18%], and sustaining the business model [18%].”
Healthcare providers are having more financial risk imposed upon them by payers, according to Bakalar. “CMS has made it clear that it would like a higher proportion of value-based payments for providers and many commercial payers are following suit with bundled payment arrangements or other approaches that move away from ‘fee-for-service,’” he says. “Healthcare providers need to figure out how to become more efficient and the technology behind telemedicine allows caregivers to connect with patients remotely, efficiently and effectively.”
Telemedicine and telehealth have been used in urgent care settings and connecting patients and clinicians in remote settings with specialists.
“Telehealth has gained a great deal of acceptance in urgent care, since it is efficient and the conditions are not terribly complex,” Bakalar says. “Also, it is helpful in settings where a doctor can offer a remote consult to guide clinicians about treatment plans, such as having a neurologist help emergency room doctors with a stroke patient or a geriatrician helping nursing home staff members determine whether a resident should get treatment in an emergency room.”