10 statistics on the current use of telemedicine in hospitals, health systems

Ninety percent of healthcare leaders reported their organizations have begun developing or implementing a telemedicine program, evidencing an industry-wide embrace of technology to achieve improved quality of care for patients and organizational success. According to the 2014 Telemedicine Survey Executive Summary conducted by Foley and Lardner LLP, healthcare leaders have reported a strong commitment to adopting telemedicine programs, even in the face of financial barriers and physician resistance.

The enthusiasm surrounding telemedicine is largely influenced by the shift in financial and payment incentives under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, according to the report. As providers shift away from traditional fee-for-service reimbursement models and begin to take on a greater share of the risk — and possible reward — for producing better patient outcomes, telemedicine offers a new solution for streamlining operations and expanding contact with patients. According to the report, while leaders are confident in the potential of telemedicine, the biggest obstacle they are facing in its implementation is getting the physicians who will be using it on board.

The report is based on survey responses from 57 healthcare leaders, most of whom are C-level executives from for-profit and nonprofit hospitals, home health organizations and physician group practices. The survey was conducted between September and October of this year. Findings from the survey are shown below.

  • Eighty-four percent of respondents believe the development of telemedicine services is either very important or important to their organizations. Only 3 percent said the technology is unimportant.
  • While only 6 percent of respondents described their telemedicine programs as "mature," just 8 percent said they had none at all.
  • Thirty-four percent said their telemedicine programs are under construction or in development, 18 percent said their programs are in the optimization phase and the remaining 36 percent are piloting or implementing their programs.
  • Sixty-four percent of respondents said their telemedicine programs offer remote monitoring, 54 percent have store and forward technology (a telecommunications technique that stores information in an intermediate station to verify a message's integrity before sending it on to the its final destination) and 52 percent have real-time interaction capabilities. Thirty-nine percent have services that qualify as mHealth — patient-centric apps and online portals.
  • Fifty percent of respondents ranked improving the quality of care as their No. 1 reason for implementing telemedicine. Eighteen percent were most excited for the opportunity to reach new patients.
  • Healthcare leaders indicated they do not expect an immediate return on investment, despite the cost savings associated with telemedicine. Only 11 percent of respondents ranked the potential for increase revenue or profitability as a reason to implement telemedicine.
  • Forty-one percent of respondents said they are not reimbursed at all for telemedicine services, and 21 percent reported receiving lower rates from managed care companies for telemedicine than for in-person care.
  • Forty-eight percent of executives said they are more concerned with convincing physicians about the utility and reliability of telemedicine than they are with convincing them that they will be adequately compensated for practicing it (36 percent).
  • The lack of confidence among physicians in telemedicine led 87 percent of executives to report they do not believe a majority of their patients will be using any of their organization's telemedicine services until after three years from now.
  • Almost 25 percent of respondents said they expect fewer than 10 percent of their patients to utilize their telemedicine services.

More articles on telemedicine:
Survey: Only 19% of providers get paid for telemedicine
Telemedicine: The top 3 obstacles facing clinicians today
12 states revisiting their telemedicine policies

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