What are small practices saying about telemedicine?
Editor's Note: 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 or UBM Medica.
While 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.
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.