The Growth Channel

Answers to 3 frequently asked telehealth questions

by Anna Yakovenko and Emily Johnson

Health care leaders during our recent 2018 Telehealth Trends webconference asked us a number of questions centered around a few big themes: reimbursement policy, competition, and wearable technologies.

Just updated: Get ready-to-use slides on the latest telehealth trends for 2018

Here are the top three questions we received—and our team's take on these important topics:

Question: What is the current state of telehealth reimbursement?

Answer: New reimbursement policies improve telehealth profitability and will likely drive greater investment in telehealth innovation.

Historically, low telehealth reimbursement has made it tough for leaders to make their telehealth programs profitable. However, recent policy updates could improve the bottom line for existing virtual care. For instance:

  • In 2018, CMS began reimbursing for remote monitoring services; previously, it had only reimbursed for live audio-visual telehealth visits;
  • Recent legislation makes telehealth a basic benefit in Medicare Advantage, rather than an optional add-on benefit financed through rebates or additional beneficiary premiums. It also waives certain Medicare geographic restrictions on telehealth for beneficiaries in Medicare Advantage plans and accountable care organizations; and
  • There's been a recent uptick in commercial parity legislation, which requires health plans to cover virtual services the same way they would cover in-person services (though this type of legislation typically doesn't require equal reimbursement). As of January 2018, 36 states and the District of Columbia have one of these laws in place—an increase of four states over the last year.

More supportive payment policies such as these are likely to drive increased telehealth adoption. In the meantime, check our State Telehealth Reimbursement Primers to see the reimbursement landscape in each state. 

Question: How can we compete with established telehealth vendors (i.e. third party vendors or insurance-sponsored programs)?

Answer:  Compete for telehealth patients by giving them what they want: their usual doctor.

Many hospitals and health systems that have recently launched primary or urgent care telehealth offerings worry that they'll have trouble competing with more established telehealth programs.

To compete against established telehealth platforms, systems should highlight seamless access to a familiar local physician network. Connecting with a known provider is actually the number one priority of most consumers who participated in our Virtual Visits Consumer Choice Survey—and this is a connection the system can more easily provide than third party vendors.

Question: What are the opportunities to incorporate wearable technologies into care delivery?

Answer: Let your end-goal guide your wearables investment.

Since CMS just announced coverage for remote monitoring, there’s growing interest in the potential use cases for these technologies.

Wearables are poised to help providers with two important objectives: attracting tech-savvy, active patients, and improving care management for patients with chronic diseases. Before introducing wearable technology into care delivery, programs must choose which strategic objective they want to pursue using telehealth—volume growth or chronic disease management. Once selected, this strategic goal should guide decisions about which technology platform to invest in and what patient groups to target, as well as how to best integrate wearable technology into provider workflow.

 

Just updated: Where all 50 states stand on telehealth

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To help you navigate this emerging market, we've assembled short guides for each state (and the District of Columbia) that cover key telehealth regulations.

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Get ready-to-use slides on the latest telehealth trends for 2018

Whether you're considering adding telehealth to your service offerings, or have already made the investment, this ready-to-use presentation can save you time and make your next planning meeting a snap. It contains our most popular slides on telehealth market trends, including an industry overview, factors influencing adoption, and expected ROI.

Use the slides to frame your next strategy meeting and build a strong foundation for your presentation.

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