Patients in rural areas and with limited transportation may welcome telemedicine, but what about the doctors?
It appears that physicians everywhere are also embracing this technology. A recent nationwide poll, conducted by QuantiaMD and American Well, reveals that 57 percent of primary care physicians are interested and willing to conduct telemedicine visits with their patients (1).
To better understand this response, let’s examine the context. As revealed by the survey, doctors are spending increasing time on non-reimbursable phone and email communications with patients. The average family doctor devotes nearly 4 hours per week on phone calls and emails, and each phone call alone costs roughly $20 of the physician’s time.
In this situation, it makes sense to replace non-reimbursable activities with billable telemedicine hours. In addition, as expressed by the doctors surveyed, a video call offers a higher quality assessment and a more accurate diagnosis than a phone call or email conversation. This perception holds among patients, too, creating a win-win situation for everyone involved: The patient avoids a time-consuming office visit and receives a diagnosis and treatment, while the telemed doctor offers needed care—and gets paid for it.
As for the remaining 43 percent of doctors who are unwilling or unsure of using telemedicine, their top reasons included uncertainty regarding reimbursement, concerns about HIPAA and security, and lack of training in clinical protocols for telemedicine. Fortunately, all of these worries can be overcome with relative ease: Payer reimbursement is becoming more widespread, and quality vendors are HIPAA compliant and will provide training in the use of technology and clinical protocols.
By the way, care to guess what percentage of primary care doctors have ever held a telemedicine or video visit with a patient? Only 5 percent. That’s a long way from the 57 percent that are ready to give it a try. With numbers like these, telemedicine can only grow in the coming years, and companies like swyMed are bringing the future to our doorstep. Where will you be?
To learn how swyMed works, request a free demo at swyMed.com today!
(1) Modahl, M., Meinke, S. (2015, June). Telehealth Index: 2015 Physician Survey. Available from http://info.americanwell.com/physician-survey