Joseph Kvedar: Telemedicine 'well positioned' as payment models shift

As both the cost of care and the number of chronically ill patients continue to rise, so, too, does the importance of telemedicine to the health industry, according to Partners HealthCare Vice President of Connected Health Joseph Kvedar.

In a post published this week in the Harvard Business Review, Kvedar argues that telemedicine is "well positioned," particularly as patients grow increasingly comfortable with using technology--such as wearable devices and/or mobile apps--and as payment models continue to shift away from a fee-for-service model.

"These types of virtualized services will become an integral part of care delivery," Kvedar says. "Indeed, several commercial payers are now reimbursing providers for vide-based visits, not to mention [the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services'] new telemedicine friendly reimbursement code."

However, Kvedar also lists several barriers to sustained success, including:

  • The current fee-for-service model, which remains a "dominant" practice
  • Physician concerns about liability
  • Varying licensure laws
  • Payer worries about potential provider overutilization of resources
  • Lingering privacy concerns

Kvedar says, however, if implemented correctly, consumers will embrace telemedicine, despite the latter hurdle.

Stakeholders across the healthcare industry joined together last week to ask Senate lawmakers for support of a proposal that would lift "outdated restrictions" on use and reimbursement of telemedicine services for Medicare patients.

A letter, sent to U.S. Senate Finance Committee members Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), outlines the proposal, which would lift restrictions to remote monitoring during the "bridge" to implementation of the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA).

What's more, a bill introduced in the U.S. House in July would provide payment parity for an expanded list of telehealth services available to Medicare beneficiaries. California Democrat Mike Thompson introduced the Medicare Telehealth Parity Act of 2015 with support from Reps. Gregg Harper (R-Miss.), Diane Black (R-Tenn.) and Peter Welch (D-Vt.).

To learn more:
- here's Kvedar's commentary

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