3-direction Street Signs for telemedicine benefits for employees

Navigating Telemedicine Benefits for Employees, Part 2

Last week, after observing that the vast majority of large employers either offer or plan to offer telemedicine benefits for employees, we considered the logistics of how a company might choose to launch such a program. Three methods present viable options: adding telemedicine as a new feature of a group health plan, incorporating telemedicine as part of an Employee Assistance Program (EAP), or creating a stand-alone telemedicine benefit. In all three cases, compliance with legal and regulatory requirements is non-negotiable; who bears the brunt of the responsibility depends on the strategy selected. In last week’s blog post, we explored the pros and cons of appending telemedicine benefits to a group health plan. Today, we’ll consider the other two approaches. Read more

3-direction Street Signs for telemedicine benefits for employees

Navigating Telemedicine Benefits for Employees

According to a survey conducted by the National Business Group on Health, 96 percent of large employers are either making or planning to make telemedicine available to their employees. Considering the time and cost savings for patients, insurance companies, and employers, this sounds like it could be a panacea. However, the logistics of implementing telemedicine benefits for employees are far from simple. An employer, whether insured or self-funded, who wants to provide telemedicine services can do so in one of three ways: integrate telemedicine as part of a group health plan, bundle telemedicine services as part of an Employee Assistance Program (EAP), or offer telemedicine services separately as a stand-alone benefit. Each method carries varying degrees of compliance issues with state and federal laws such as ERISA. Read more

Telemedicine coverage illustrated by private payer administrator paying telemedicine doctor

Telemedicine Coverage Growing Rapidly, Says ATA Survey

The results are in: 80 percent of US states have taken action to improve telemedicine coverage or reimbursement over the last two years, according to the American Telemedicine Association’s latest survey of state laws and policies. However, each state is working alone in implementing these changes, forcing physicians who practice in more than one state to juggle confusing guidelines. Read more

legal issues in medicine depicted by stethoscope and gavel on book

Top Tips to Avoid Legal Issues in Telemedicine

Nearly 70 percent of physicians are willing to use telemedicine, according to a recent survey, but what the survey didn’t measure is what percentage are concerned about legal issues in telemedicine. Considering the broad variance in telemedicine regulations across the nation, the concern is certainly a valid one. Here are some areas in which newly-minted telemedicine physicians should tread carefully to avoid running afoul of the law. Read more

empty emergency room waiting for telemedicine adoption

Emergency Telemedicine Adoption Put on Hold

No matter how much a healthcare facility wants or needs telemedicine, few things can stop telemedicine adoption faster than contrary regulations or laws. This recently proved true in Mississippi, which has just 64.4 primary care physicians per 100,000 residents—far less than the national median of 90.8. To add insult to injury, some rural hospitals have had to close emergency rooms or shut down entirely due to financial difficulties. This setting may look perfect for the implementation of telemedicine as a remedy, but existing state regulations have quickly nixed this potential solution. Read more

At hospital without inpatient telemedicine, night call doctor falls asleep

Top 4 Benefits of Inpatient Telemedicine

Implementing a new inpatient telemedicine program can be a daunting task for any hospital, but with careful consideration, hospital administrators can identify key return on investment (ROI) factors for prioritization. The top four ROI factors for any hospital, as described by Eagle Telemedicine, are improved clinical metrics, patient and family satisfaction, impact on transfers, and physician retention. Admittedly, all four aspects can benefit from a telemedicine presence; the question is how large an impact will be felt. Read more

Doctor at desk talking to patient with telemedicine solutions

Will Telemedicine Solutions Ease Physician Shortage?

For the next 20 years, three million baby boomers will reach retirement—each year, according to Advisory Board. Today, one in five people already lives in an area with a shortage of primary care physicians, and some hospitals are already experiencing a shortage of specialists; what will happen when we keep adding more patients than doctors to the healthcare system? Many experts, such as the Association of American Medical Colleges, predict that the shortage will only worsen. In a proactive effort to alleviate the problem and increase patients’ access to physicians, some hospitals and health systems have begun encouraging their patients to use telemedicine solutions instead of traveling to the doctor’s office, thus enabling physicians to see more patients more efficiently. Read more

doctor answering survey for telemedicine adoption

Survey Finds Doctors Ready for Telemedicine Adoption Boom

A new survey by M3 Global Research and American Well has revealed that more physicians are using telemedicine now (22 percent) than in 2015 (5 percent), and the trend is expected to continue upwards; over half of US doctors expect to use the technology by 2022. The polled physicians cited a number of reasons for their readiness for telemedicine adoption, although some uncertainties remain. Read more

paper money falling into piggy bank

Telemedicine Cost Savings Are Just Beginning

Telemedicine has long been touted as a balm for rising healthcare costs. Indeed, a 2017 report from the Rural Broadband Association found that annual telemedicine cost savings averaged $20,841 per hospital in the US. Some believe that telemedicine, including remote patient monitoring, could shave a combined $4.3 billion off the country’s yearly healthcare bill. While a first glance at the cost savings looks promising, digging deeper reveals that several obstacles are still preventing us from maximizing the benefits of telemedicine; this suggests that, with full support, cost savings could be driven higher yet. Read more

farm along country road in Southern York County, PA

Rural Telemedicine Growing More Slowly than Expected

Telemedicine has been touted as a revolutionary solution to the shortage of physicians in rural areas, but a recent study published in JAMA suggests that although this trend may have begun, it has not yet snowballed as expected. Between 2005 and 2017, 83.3% of patients with commercial insurance who used telemedicine services lived in urban areas. This suggests that they were not driven to use telemedicine by a shortage of physicians, but rather by other factors such as convenience. Such a surprising result seems contrary to the belief that rural patients are seeking greater access to physicians; if this were the case, then one might expect more rural telemedicine than urban telemedicine. Read more