Telemedicine so popular even Medicare is getting in the game

Telemedicine is the major thing, the last 18 months have shown the interest in the subject is overwhelming. As such, a new survey reveals that nearly 60 percent of doctors will meet their patients via video – and just as many would refer their patients to a hospital that offered telemedicine consults with specialists. The “Telehealth Index: 2015 Physician Survey” showcases the results of more than 2,000 primary doctors in which American Well and QuantiaMD found that there is overwhelming support for video-based telemedicine more than telephone or e-mail communications.

According to the survey, 57 percent of the physicians surveyed favor video visits, while 31 percent said they aren’t sure and 12 percent rejected them outright, of course, considering the source, perhaps there’s something to be said about the results of the survey.
Physicians said they feel that video visits will improve their workflow and boost income, rather than add new patients or keep the ones they have. According to mHealth News, almost 80 percent cited “flexible work-life schedule” as their primary reason for wanting video visits, while 67 percent picked “earn more income” and 66 percent chose “improve patient outcome.” On the other end of the spectrum, attracting new patients scored 41 percent and retaining existing patients took 37 percent of the vote.
According to the site, when asked to evaluate the uses of telemedicine, about 90 percent of physicians see the form of communication as a platform for delivering concierge services to fee-paying patients. Other uses listed were medication management (86 percent), minor urgent care (85 percent), birth control counseling (83 percent), home healthcare (82 percent) and chronic condition management (80 percent).
“There’s a sea of change going on within the physician community,” Roy Schoenberg, MD, CEO of American Well, said in a statement. “Doctors see value in virtual visits for their patients and also in managing their own work-life balance. We’ve seen weekly physician inquiries about practicing online triple in less than six months.”
In fact, telemedicine has become so popular that even Congress is considering changes that would modernize the 50-year-old program, including allowing it to pay for a broader array of telemedicine treatments to more people, according to Bankrate.
According to the current rules, Medicare is restricted to paying for a limited amount of telemedicine used to deliver healthcare to rural areas; Medicare hasn’t been a frequent payer, Bankrate reports.
Veterans Health Administration uses telehealth, as does prison systems that have been using telemedicine for years to provide routine care to inmates. “Using telemedicine more broadly could also cut insurance costs. Human resources consultancy Towers Watson estimates the savings at $6 billion a year for companies that buy coverage for employees,” the site reports.
According to the American Well survey, physicians said they saw a value for telemedicine in specialty care consults, listing dermatology, psychiatry, infectious disease, pain management, neurology and cardiology as the top specialty consults for which they’d use video visits.
Finally, 70 percent of physicians said video visits provide the most accurate diagnosis; 25 percent selected phone consults; 5 percent chose e-mail; and 1 percent selected text messaging.

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