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    What are small practices saying about telemedicine?

    Editor's Note: Welcome to Medical Economics' blog section which features contributions from members of the medical community. These blogs are an opportunity for bloggers to engage with readers about a topic that is top of mind, whether it is practice management, experiences with patients, the industry, medicine in general, or healthcare reform. The series continues with this blog by Jake DiBattista, a territory manager at SimpleVisit, a video service provider for physicians. The views expressed in these blogs are those of their respective contributors and do not represent the views of Medical Economics or UBM Medica.

     

     

    Jake DiBattistaWhile leaders in healthcare are pushing for an era of digital care, many providers on the frontlines have remained silent observers.

     

    Further reading: Why aren't more doctors using patient engagement tools?

     

    In a recent field survey1, my team explored the impact of telemedicine in four types of small practices located across the U.S. The survey was distributed among practice types that were identified as highly likely to be using telemedicine services: primary care, house-call only and concierge-care doctors.

    Phone interviews of staff and practitioners were conducted to dig into the rate of usage, and to discover which patient demographic benefitted the most from telehealth. All practices interviewed were independent practitioners in a practice of 10 or fewer total providers.

    Family Practice

    The first provider segment interviewed were family practitioners, who have been viewed by many as a champion of telehealth and the first layer of healthcare for most patients. Telehealth feels like a natural fit for family practitioners, who must screen patients quickly and make a variety of diagnoses.

     

    More from Jake: Navigating the buzzwords of telehealth

     

    It was discovered that a majority of generalists interviewed view telehealth as a key asset for elderly care. However, despite a clearly identified need, less than 20% of providers interviewed currently offered their patients video visit services. While a minority did offer telemedicine services such as phone calls, texting, emailing and e-prescribing, willingness to try video visits was limited.

    House Call Only

    The second category analyzed was providers who primarily offer house-call services to patients. A fleeting concept, the house call was once the dominant mechanism of healthcare delivery in America.

    Next: There seems to be a disconnect

    Jake DiBattista
    Jake DiBattista is a Territory Manager at SimpleVisit, a video service provider that makes it easy for providers to offer video visits. ...

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    • Anonymous
      If Medicare paid for telemedicine visits, they would be adopted quickly and widely for the population for which it is most needed. There are currently two problems: Medicare does not pay for TM except in the most rural areas. Many live in more urban areas as they age to be near children who are working and who are taking care of patients. And, Medicare only pays for visits from one facility to another, so patients can't receive telemedicine from home. The population who needs it the most is the elderly in assisted living and nursing homes. It could work very well there, since a physician could rent a small space there and provide telemedicine -- as long as the center is in a rural enough area. And that's not where assisted living centers are located.

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