"Health-care reform, a ballooning and aging population and a shortage of available family physicians may be a perfect storm that could blow the doors open for telehealth to go mainstream."
-- Brian Heaton, GovTech
Despite recent fiascos in our nation's capitol, the Affordable Care Act is taking root. And regardless of where you fall politically, there is one thing that is clear: the ACA may really boost telemedicine. We've been keeping our eye on the regulatory side of things, so here is our rundown...
6 reasons the Affordable Care Act makes telemedicine (even more) crucial:
- High demand. It's estimated that the healthcare system will see an influx of more than 30 million newly insured patients. Those patients' needs may be best met with a combination of telemedicine and conventional solutions.
- Provider shortage. The ACA's provisions increase demand while not addressing the provider shortage (particularly of primary care doctors), making telemedicine-based visits are care coordination crucial.
- Better reimbursement and funding. The bill provides several explicit provisions increasing funding and easing reimbursements for telehealth.
- Need for medical home and meaningful use. It's not enough to use EMRs, as we all know -- it has to be meaningful use.
- Shared cost and outcomes-driven models. A focus on outcomes (rather than treatments) and a shared cost model means that the care coordination, collaboration, and savings that telemedicine can provide will be crucial for hospital systems and providers. As Dr. Brian Rosenfeld, Chief Medical Officer at Philips Healthcare, said, "Telehealth offers the opportunity to provide the access, quality and cost that will be necessary to increase prevention and leverage our current workforce."
- Technology is less of a barrier. Although this factor isn't directly related to the ACA, it is a trend happening at the same time. Every year, technology -- broadband, collaboration platforms, cameras, computers -- get a little more widespread and a little easier to use. For instance, every doctor has the tools for using iClickCare in their office, and most have it in their pocket.