Telemedicine going mainstream amid ACOs

With the Affordable Care Act making physician payments more outcomes-focused, some experts predict that telemedicine and Web-based visits will become a more integral part of how physician offices care for patients.

To test this notion, the Mayo Clinic is currently piloting video visits and will decide later this year whether it's practical and beneficial to expand it, Bob Walters, chair, department of regional practices, Mayo Clinic Florida in Jacksonville, told the Republic.

"The lion's share of information about a patient is done with the e-consult. What isn't available is the visualization of patients, and that is where you take it to the next level [in the exam room]," Walters said. With the technology widely available to see patients remotely, handling more care that way makes financial sense in today's healthcare environment, he added. "The commitment of ACOs is to manage costs," he said.

On a broader scale, 20 states have now legislated mandates for private coverage of telehealth services, Medscape Today reported, while legislation mandating telehealth coverage by commercial insurers has been proposed with bipartisan support in the legislatures of 10 additional states.

And with efficiency being more critical to physician businesses than ever, adding videoconferencing services can help doctors expand their patient base and augment their incomes, with the flexibility to do so at whatever hours they choose, Medscape noted.

"There are scores of telehealth vendors" currently available to help physicians provide and bill for online services, Medscape added.

To learn more:
- read the article from the Republic
- see the story from Medscape Today

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