Healthcare providers indicated that their telemedicine platform is frequently inadquate due to lack of EMR integration, according to the results of the REACH Health 2018 U.S. Telemedicine Industry Benchmark Survey. Conducted between December 2017 and January 2018, REACH Health asked more than 400 healthcare executives, physicians, nurses and other professionals on their priorities, objectives and challenges, telemedicine program models and management structures, clinical specialties, service lines and settings of care, and their telemedicine platforms.
For those using their EMR as their telemedicine platform, nearly half are documenting in the EMR after remote consultations have ended, and more than one-third said their EMR does not enable them to adequately analyze telemedicine-specific metrics. Additionally, two of the top five telemedicine program challenges were EMR-related.
The survey revealed key findings about a wide variety of telemedicine topics:
– Forty-eight percent of respondents indicated they use an enterprise approach, up from 39 percent in 2017. This corresponded with a significant drop in telemedicine initiatives managed by individual departments, from 36 percent last year to 26 percent this year.
– Telemedicine still focused on patients. The top four objectives of respondents’ telemedicine programs are patient-focused, a trend observed since this survey’s inception in 2015. Both clinics and behavioral health show dynamic growth. In the 2015 survey care, settings such as clinics and specialties such as behavioral health exhibited significant telemedicine opportunities, with many providers in the planning stage. The 2018 results show both are achieving their potential, with clinics exhibiting 37 percent growth and behavioral health exhibiting 40 percent growth in active telemedicine programs.
– Regulatory uncertainty not slowing momentum. Despite regulatory uncertainty, more than 80 percent of respondents expect their internal adoption and use of telemedicine to increase or stay about the same, while more than 75 percent expect investment in telemedicine to increase or stay the same.
– Top challenges are reimbursement-related. The survey ranked the top 20 challenges for telemedicine programs. Inadequate parity laws topped the list of unaddressed challenges for telemedicine programs, identified by 40 percent of survey respondents. An additional 37 percent said this challenge was only partially addressed. Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement were second and fourth on the list.
“Not only are enterprise telemedicine programs becoming more common – they are markedly more successful,” said Steve McGraw, President and CEO of REACH Health. “When we correlated these approaches with participants’ achievements, we found that organizations taking an enterprise approach are 30 percent more likely to be highly successful than organizations with a departmental approach.”