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    New bill would expand Medicare patients ability to utilize telemedicine

     

    “The main problem is that PCPs don't currently get paid for this work, so it gets marginalized and crammed between all the face-to-face visits that fill up a PCP’s schedule,” Crothers says. “If this legislation succeeded in creating reimbursement streams for effective, high-quality telehealth services for PCPs, then they could expect to see their schedules shift to include virtual visits throughout the day. Hopefully, these visits would displace and prevent the need for many of the low-value service utilizations that contribute to healthcare waste.” 

     

    Hot topic: Why have EHRs failed to deliver their promised efficiency benefits?

     

    Wantuck feels the average primary care physician doesn’t care about the bill, and won’t go to the trouble of investing in a telehealth program when he/she is confident that reimbursement will be lower or nonexistent—especially with legislation that has very specific guidelines on what counts and what doesn’t.

    “Telehealth is on the average PCP’s radar, but is often far off in the distance, as they’re far more concerned with their already overwhelming array of responsibilities,” he says. “Alternatively, hospitals and larger practices have the resources to implement a telehealth program and it may be good from a PR perspective, but not much more than that.”

    Keith Loria
    Keith Loria is a contributing writer to Medical Economics.

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