Our team of Virtual Care experts continues to closely track all the latest developments and happenings in our fast-paced industry to keep you in the know. Here’s a rundown of some of the notable moments we’ve spotted since our last Insights Report.
Virtual Care Now Accounts for One-Fifth of Medical Appointments
Virtual Care seems to have reached its cruising altitude for now at about 20 percent of all appointments following skyrocketing interest in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a new survey by KLAS Research and the Center for Connected Medicine. Despite telehealth use dipping from last year’s peak, health systems are still building out their Virtual Care capabilities to meet patients’ needs and reduce costs. Survey respondents say chronic care management, behavioral health, and urgent care are the main practice divisions where they’re looking to expand telehealth options.
Telehealth Study Finds Resounding Success in Rural Telepsychiatry
The Study to Promote Innovation in Rural Integrated Telepsychiatry (SPIRIT), a report published in JAMA Psychiatry, found that telepsychiatry in rural health centers was an overwhelming success for patients with bipolar disorder and/or PTSD. It sought to identify the best approach to deliver telemental health services to rural primary-care clinics. With a significant shortage of psychiatrists and other providers in the mental health field, the study shows how virtual capabilities can help distribute the available workforce more effectively. The results demonstrate that “if you give access to high-quality care for patients who are underserved, they improve their quality of life,” said lead researcher Dr. John Fortney.
It's Telehealth Awareness Week is next week, Sept. 19-25, and we are celebrating a range of telehealth successes, including eVisit customer, Easterseals of Michigan, for its significant work to delivering consistency of care in behavioral health.
American Telehealth Association’s CEO Weighs In: Meeting Patients Where They Are + More!
Ann Mond Johnson, CEO of the ATA, shared her perspectives on telehealth in the U.S. and the future of the industry during a recent interview.
- On the rise of the empowered telehealth consumer: “I’ve always been focused on meeting people where they are. This is what telehealth is all about. Americans need access to safe, reliable care wherever they are. And we can’t meet it by having one doctor to one patient; we need other modalities. And I think people understand that… So do I have hope around the growing consumer experience? Yes.”
- On whether policymakers are keeping up to speed: “I think so, the fact that Senators [Brian] Schatz (D) and [Tim] Scott (R) are on board, and understand that we need to eliminate arcane regulations, offers evidence. Certainly yes, at the federal level, they are aware. And yes, you have to be an eternal optimist to be in my seat, and I am that.”
- On the next five years in telehealth: “On the industry level, we’re going to see a lot more innovation. Our four-hundred members—we have companies that are providing tech space or interactions that they make available; we have companies doing remote monitoring, decentralized clinical trials, artificial intelligence, virtual reality—so, the definition of telehealth is much broader than it had been historically…As it relates to policy, there’s been a tsunami of bills and legislative activity at the federal and state levels. And we’ve been absolutely vigilant about staying on top of that."
Federal Action: FCC Distributes New Round of Telehealth Funding
FCC awarded $41.9 million in funding to 62 healthcare organizations as part of its $100 million Connected Care Pilot Program. The FCC has now committed grants to providers in every state, territory and Washington, D.C. A list of all 62 organizations can be found here.
Stanford Researchers: Telemedicine Optimization Requires Training, Interoperability
In a new Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association article, Stanford scientists shared that, “To optimize patient and provider experience through telemedicine, stakeholders need to focus on enhancing technology interoperability and usability and sufficient training for efficient telemedicine use.”
The article lays out a few key components of an optimal Virtual Care model, including:
- Support for secure information-sharing across the care team and patient monitoring efforts.
- Creating positive patient and doctor experiences, including through language translation, closed captions, better provider training, and leveraging telehealth to streamline workflows.
- Aligning with a care delivery model that prioritizes access and convenience, such as deploying telemedicine kiosks to the public and leveraging AI-enabled tools.
- Monitoring and evaluating key data, such as care quality and patient-reported outcomes.
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