As healthcare providers, we tend to keep our heads down and just do the work for the patient.
It's usually better to ignore most of the trends and politics happening around us.
But medicine is now changing so fast, that this kind of approach is become unsustainable. For instance, HIPAA rules affect you whether you're paying attention or not.
A couple of recent articles over at Fierce Healthcare (here and here) highlight telemedicine trends that we believe WILL affect how you practice medicine, wherever you are in the continuum of care, and whether you're a "telemedicine person" or not.
4 telemedicine trends that will affect how you practice medicine:
- Convenience and lower costs mean pressure to adopt telemedicine. The evidence is pretty set, at this point, that telemedicine helps decrease costs. It does it through decreasing readmissions, through supporting care at high-cost places like Long Term Care, and improving workflow and care coordination. That means that opting out is only a viable solution for so long -- we recommend making good choices about how and when to use telemedicine, rather than not using it altogether.
- Telemedicine is increasingly useful for care coordination and management of chronic conditions. It used to be that telemedicine was most frequently used for acute conditions and rapid consultations. As many providers are finding, though, telemedicine is actually most powerful in complex contexts in which providers need to be involved at different times, different locations, in different ways.
- There is a movement away from hospitals to clinics and patients' homes. The evidence that bigger hospitals don't mean lower costs is just one piece of the puzzle. As cost pressures mount, as patient demand increases, and the population changes, care in clinics and at home becomes the new normal. Telemedicine, in turn, is almost the only feasible way to manage modern care in that context.
- Reimbursement for telemedicine is almost a done deal. For many years, reimbursement was the last bulwark against telemedicine. Now, with reimbursement set in 29 states, and huge progress being made for store-and-forward telemedicine reimbursement, regulations are more in support of telemedicine than against it.
- Telemedicine can be used for medical education. This article highlights how people are beginning to see a need for education about telemedicine-- and we think that the real shift is to start looking at education using telemedicine.
Very few people love change. But the more we embrace it, the more we can embrace it on our terms -- and that is good for us, and for our patients.
Get a free primer on telemedicine to help inform your choices: