1. More clinical leaders are at the table
The proportion of telehealth questions coming from clinical leaders relative to their administrative peers nearly doubled between 2016 and 2017. To avoid siloed activity across service lines, strategic planners will face a stronger imperative in 2018 to work with their clinical service lines to create a coordinated system-wide telehealth program.
2. Interest in real-time virtual visits outpaced other modalities in 2017—but 2018 may be a different story
Between 2016 and 2017, questions about real-time virtual visits increased by 41%, compared with a 44% decrease in remote patient monitoring questions. One reason may be that Medicare did not reimburse for remote patient monitoring activity in 2017. However, we expect a surge in attention to remote monitoring due to the fact that CMS recently introduced a new billing code for remote patient monitoring services in 2018—paving the way for reimbursement this year.
3. Most providers remain in the early stages of telehealth program development
Fewer than one in five questions submitted by provider organizations focused on telehealth implementation, and only 4% of those questions requested guidance beyond the pilot phase—indicating that, consistent with our 2016 findings, most providers are still building general knowledge around telehealth and slowly gearing up from interest towards adoption.
4. Many askers seek to understand the business case for telehealth
We also received a significant number of questions related to telehealth policy and ROI. It's no surprise that telehealth policies are a topic of interest for health care leaders, since many of these policies dictate reimbursement and practice standards for the technology. This isn't likely to go away—new legislative activity in 2017 suggests a shifting landscape in which telehealth reimbursement is consistently becoming more favorable across modalities and care settings.