The California Assembly passed a telehealth bill requiring healthcare plans to equally reimburse providers for services having the same effect remotely as in person.
The bill, awaiting signature by California Governor Gavin Newsom, would expand telehealth access to all CA residents by requiring health insurance plans to reimburse providers for appointments that would have the same impact whether in person or via video.
Assembly Bill 744 strengthens and clarifies the existing telehealth statutes. The reimbursement of telehealth services is already covered under Medi-Cal, but this law enforces the same for private health plans as well.
Read more about California’s AB744 here: https://mhealthintelligence.com/news/california-looks-to-expand-coverage-for-telehealth-services
This week the AMA published an article with some interesting stats related to telehealth use across the US.
Here are some highlights:
- 21% of all telehealth claims were made by clients age 31-40 during the time period 2014-2018.
- In that same time period, 65% of all claims were made by female clients.
- Psychiatrists in rural areas were more likely to provide telehealth services, with 24.2% of psychiatrists in North Dakota offering telehealth, as opposed to only .01% in Massachusetts.
The number of US physicians who list telemedicine as a skill doubled from 2015 to 2018, according to a recent study done by Doximity, a network of healthcare professionals. The study also reports significant growth in telemedicine patient visits, which increased annually by 261 percent between 2015 and 2017.
Interestingly, this growth is not attributed solely to Millennials and young professionals, but is spread evenly among age groups
The Doximity study ranked the top 10 U.S. metro areas that had the highest number of physicians expressing interest in telemedicine.
1. San Diego
4. New York City
5. Salt Lake City
6. San Francisco
8. Los Angeles
The study concludes: “It’s encouraging to note that physicians across specialties, age groups and geographic regions are drawn to telemedicine. Physicians’ increasing interest in telemedicine, and temporary positions, will help more patients get access to care. Whether it be a late-night call about an infant’s health from a new mother, a video chat with a mental healthcare provider, or a patient who lives 100 miles from the closest hospital having a follow-up visit with a provider, doctors and patients alike are using and benefiting from the rise of telemedicine across the country.”
2019 Telemedicine and Locum Tenens Opportunities Study
NPR produced an interesting segment on the state of telehealth services and how they’ve helped people in rural communities. The article spotlights one woman in rural CA who needed therapy but lives in a town with only two therapists and could only get one appointment per month. Instead she visited a local clinic twice a week to connect via video call with a therapist 200 miles away. She was skeptical at first, but quickly adapted and became comfortable and grateful that this service was available to her.
The article illustrates the rapid growth of telehealth as a way to serve rural communities, however their survey shows that 1 in 5 rural households don’t have the broadband internet access available to reliably connect for telehealth calls from their home.
Survey results also indicate convenience is the leading factor for choosing telehealth services. In many cases, it was the only option. However even when respondents had in-person services available, many chose telehealth because of the convenience.
Click here to read the article or listen to the NPR segment.