How telehealth can be a boon to value-based purchasing

Telehealth is less tied to physical locations than in-person care and can provide benefits in high-value purchasing strategies, according to a recent post at the Health Affairs Blog.

For employers, it can provide improved access to care, especially in rural areas. In addition, it leads to less time off spent traveling to appointments and use of more appropriate--and less expensive--care settings, say the authors, from Catalyst for Payment reform, a nonprofit working with large employers. Telemedicine also enhances competition among providers, helps to lower costs and compels local physicians to improve the patient experience.

While telehealth generally is focused on providing primary care and reducing emergency room visits, it also can be used to address a broader array of healthcare needs and has a positive effect on the market as long as it's focused on enhancing the quality of care, the authors say.

In its most recent proposed budget, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT predicts that by expanding the ability of Medicare Advantage to pay for telehealth services, $160 million could be saved over the course of a decade.

What's more, a recent report by Avalere Health predicts that three Medicaid reimbursement policy changes for telehealth and remote patient monitoring proposed in new legislation could save the federal government $1.8 billion over the next 10 years.

However, patients won't wait for the healthcare industry to catch up on technology, Susan Turney, M.D., CEO of Marshfield Clinic, said at the Workgroup for Electronic Data Interchange's conference last fall. That's among the reasons retail clinics are having such a big impact on practices.

To learn more:
- here's the blog post