It can be easy to feel that things are getting worse and worse in medicine. EMRs/EHRs that seem possessed by a demon, ever-shorter visit windows, and climbing stacks of paperwork all contribute to an atmosphere of "I thought things couldn't get worse. And then they did."
But when it comes to telemedicine and medical collaboration, the trend is assuredly positive. Especially in the last few months, one obstacle to telemedicine after another is crumbling. Likely driven by incentives to cut costs while improving care, the government, insurance companies, and providers -- all of which are starting to move in the same direction and making choices to support telemedicine.
We believe medical providers need to pioneer their own telemedicine and medical collaboration practices, even without widespread support. But it certainly can't hurt if some of the obstacles are removed.
Here are our top favorites:
- Smartphones and tablets make adoption effortless (or close to it).
When clunky, expensive hardware was the only option, it was hard for medical providers to adopt telemedicine. Not only was it a pain to interrupt your day to go to the "videoconferencing room," these options also meant that providers had to wait for large budgets to act. “We’ve moved to a belief that you have to deliver this to a phone or tablet in order to get the adoption you want,” says Margaret Laws, the Innovations for the Underserved program director at the California Healthcare Foundation. And since using telemedicine or collaborating on a smartphone or tablet is easier than ever, there is good news for the spread of the practice.
- Regulations are starting to get smarter.
In one example, a new bill would remove health software and clinical software from the FDA's jurisdiction. Is it possible that common sense might just be winning out?
- Reimbursements are finally coming together.
As of last week, there are now 22 states that require telehealth visits to be reimbursed at the same rate as in-person visits. New York State's Governor Cuomo just signed a law that allows NY providers to bill for live video/audio, store-and-forward, and remote patient monitoring from private insurers and Medicaid. And other efforts continue to move forward, as well: a Colorado bill has just moved to the House that would prohibit health insurance plans from requiring in-person care.
- New tools make workflow a snap.
We've always believed that telemedicine is less about technology than it is about people and good workflow. When a telemedicine solution is easy to use and works with the schedule of the provider, then the technology can really be adopted. For instance, we've found that a Hybrid Store-and-Forward® solution removes the need for providers to play telephone tag, schedule video conferences, or wait for consults.
So let this post be one vote for the "glass being half-full" -- and getting fuller every day.
To learn more about Hybrid Store-and-Forward Telemedicine, get our free guide: