3 reasons telehealth is ready for primetime

Although telemedicine has been more of a promise than a reality for the last several years, Jason Gorevic, chief executive officer of Teladoc, told Forbes, the time may finally be right for virtual care to take off.

Three factors make telehealth more attractive, according to the article:

Reimbursement. Telehealth has reached a tipping point in which major employers and insurers are seeing its value and willing to pay those who deliver it. Vendors charge employers or insurers between $40 and $50 for each consultation--about half the cost of a face-to-face visit, according to Forbes. With some health plans, virtual visits can cost patients nothing out of pocket.

Nonetheless, it will behoove physicians to keep fighting for fair pay surrounding telehealth services, William Thornbury, M.D., the founder of an online appointment site called meVisit, urged attendees at the American Academy of Family Physicians' recent State Legislative Conference.

Risk management. As expanded insurance coverage puts higher demands on some physicians, telemedicine presents an opportunity for physicians to offer prompt and efficient medical care. And from a liability standpoint, virtual care is less risky than many doctors may think, Paul Greve Jr., executive vice president/senior consultant for the Willis Health Care Practice, a global risk management consultant firm, told FiercePracticeManagement in an exclusive interview.

"We've had very, very few claims to date," Greve said. "Telemedicine is a good example of a new technology in which the risk to patient safety can be very adequately managed as long as people pay attention to society guidelines." The American Telemedicine Association has also put forth guidelines that can help physicians reduce their liability, he added.

Competition. Simply put, if you don't offer telemedicine, you may lose patients to providers that do, as highlighted by a recent report from PwC. In fact, PwC said that 51 percent of clinicians responding to its survey are providing telemedicine to compete with new players like retail health clinics. To that end, Walgreens recently announced its mobile telehealth system is now available in 25 states, which shows the kind of growth retail clinics have in that area.

To learn more:
- read the article