Telehealth coverage and usage is continuing to make strides forward. The US Department of Health and Human Services estimates that currently 60% of all healthcare institutions and about 45% of all hospitals are using telehealth in one way or another. This increased usage correlates with the goal of improving patient care, improving the health of the overall population, reducing healthcare costs and the physician shortage the US is currently facing.
A large number of healthcare providers have reported using telehealth services to bridge the gaps in health care. Geisinger Health System, the Veterans Health Administration, Partners HealthCare and many more have implemented telehealthcare into their care systems. Telehealthcare has helped deal with provider shortages as well as improve the patient’s overall experience. This form of care allows for extended care hours, reduces patient travel time and improves accessibility to healthcare.
Currently 31 states and the District of Columbia have laws in place which require commercial health insurers to provide equal coverage for in-person and telehealth services. 49 states cover telemental health services, and 36 cover various other telehealth services. Legislation is continuing to support the implementation of telehealth which could be a saving grace for the US healthcare system.
Legislators are not the only ones jumping onto this telehealth bandwagon. The National Business Group on Health predicts that almost all employers with cover telehealth services by 2020. Now as this field continues to grow questions come up on the effectiveness of telehealthcare vs in person visits, and how will this be integrated into the clinical workflow?
These questions are yet to be fully answered, however the evidence provided so far has shown telehealth has been largely effective. With the emergence of this field there will need to be continued research and innovation in order to successfully integrate telehealth into the care system.
With that said telehealth continues to be a promising tool for the future of healthcare. If you would like to learn more about the world of telehealth and how you can join this community check out our website and other blog posts.