While telehealth platforms have traditionally revolved around a health system, specialists now find they can launch their own, offering care to an array of patients, often in remote areas, rather than those near urban centers.
Specialties such as psychology, psychiatry, dermatology, audiology, ophthalmology and dentistry fit especially well into this business model, reported mHealth Intelligence.
Telestroke is among the most widely used practices of telehealth, bringing a neurologist into the treatment as quickly as possible to a person who suffers from a stroke.
Pediatric specialty care is another burgeoning area for telehealth. The Shriners hospital network, for instance, offers orthopedic and neuromusculoskeltal specialty care remotely, and Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia connects specialists to doctors in rural regions of the Southwest practicing with the Indian Health Service.
Some health systems set up telehealth platforms that allow clinicians access to specialty consults, reducing the need to make referrals.
For many of these programs, cross-state licensure remains a major hurdle, but is an issue being addressed by the Federation of State Medical Boards and other groups.
To provide telehealth services, providers must ensure their IT infrastructure can reliably and securely handle the growing traffic. And reimbursement and a patchwork of various state regulations remain major barriers.
Overly positive research on short-term projects might skew the real picture of telehealth’s effectiveness, according to a paper published at Journal of Medical Internet Research. Reimbursement, the need for care teams to manage cases and effective data management are areas that require more attention, it said.