Telehealth opportunities ripe for practices

By Aine Cryts

Telehealth visits are projected to grow to 7 million in 2018--a dramatic increase from 350,000 in 2013, according to IHS Technology. And the global market for telehealth services is projected to hit $34 billion by 2020, says Mordor Intelligence.

As the high-tech ways patients seek care continues to evolve, so too are the ways physicians can take advantage of the trend, according to a recent Medpage Today article. 

"This industry has been building slowly and there is still time to become a forefather in shaping how it will look for years to come," noted the article. "There is no better time to position yourself on the ground floor of this evolving landscape."

For example, physicians can augment their existing practices by joining a telehealth platform or even creating their own, with the potential to earn as much as $140 an hour for doing consults during non-clinic time. A key advantage of joining existing telehealth networks is that they remove the administrative burdens of billing, malpractice coverage and credentialing.

Another option for physician practices is to provide remote monitoring for chronic diseases and develop care coordination plans that leverage telehealth, according to the news outlet. This approach could be particularly well suited to managing diabetic patients.

Previously, a major barrier to widespread adoption of telehealth was the reality that employers and insurers wouldn't pay for it. That's changing. Telehealth companies typically charge between $40 and $50 per consult--and that cuts the cost of an in-office visit in half. Some plan beneficiaries are charged nothing for telehealth visits.

In addition, physicians in several states can now benefit from the Interstate Physician Licensure Compact, an agreement that eliminates red tape and costs required for physicians licensed in one state to gain credentials in other member states. Wisconsin became the 12th state to join the compact in December.

Not offering a telehealth option to patients could even put your practice at a competitive disadvantage, especially in markets with a heavy presence of retail clinics, FiercePracticeManagement reported previously.

To learn more:
- check out IHS Technology's report
- view Mordor Intelligence's research
- read the Medpage Today article