Telehealth reimbursement, woman with tablet and headset

Could Telehealth Reimbursement Concerns Stall its Implementation?

Note that this is the third segment of a 4-part telehealth series. Make sure to also check out: Can Telehealth Help in the Battle Against the Opioid Crisis? CMS is increasing Telehealth access – but, is the timing right?  Telehealth as a Health System Expansion Strategy

Telehealth is the new buzzword in the healthcare industry with hopes that it can reduce cost, improve patient care and act as an expansion tool for healthcare organizations. However, will telehealth reimbursement issues keep this new strategy from advancing as quickly as everyone wants? As a continuation of our panel discussion from the HFMA Florida Spring Conference Annual Meeting in St. Petersburg, FL, we will explore the challenges in the delivery of telemedicine, specifically with reimbursement concerns.

A recent study by the Center for Connected Medicine found “70% of [healthcare] executives ranking lack of reimbursement as a top barrier to greater telehealth adoption at their health system.” The study also shows…

Currently, a majority of health systems report that less than one-third of their cost for delivering telehealth services are covered by either reimbursement or other external funding sources. Despite this deficit, health system executives are optimistic about government and commercial telehealth reimbursement increasing in the next three years.” Furthermore, “most health system executives interviewed for this study said their health system had not yet calculated a specific return on investment (ROI) for telehealth. But systems are investing anyway as a hedge that future reimbursement will outweigh the potential losses of today

Some of this optimism stems from CMS, who is in some ways leading the charge by pushing for telehealth service delivery by providing medical codes for patient monitoring reimbursement. Although there are some concerns that the reimbursement rate is too low, never the less, it is definitely a start.

Letting reimbursement concerns stop your organization from implementing a telehealth system is the wrong approach. Each organization has unique opportunities and capacities for growth of this type. Sometimes it just takes a fresh set of eyes to see the possibilities.

Telehealth use is currently at just 23% of patients participating according to a Deloitte 2018 survey of US physicians. However, it is a service that patients are asking for with data showing that they would even switch providers to get it. The younger generation is leading the charge at 56% of those aged 18-44 willing to make the switch. Knowing this, it is reasonable to conclude that not moving towards a telehealth expansion in your organization could be a big misstep when looking at the future. The ability to offer telemedicine will allow your organization ways to differentiate your services and not just simply keep up with the status quo.

Plus, many health organizations are seeing the extreme value in being able to grow their organization by serving more remote areas and patients who typically could not or would not make regular visits to a physical location. Telehealth provides an especially great opportunity for organizations with a preeminent specialty of care that patients usually have to travel from afar to access. Telehealth services remove the distance barrier allowing for more patients to receive top-quality care. All this plus the convenience that younger populations are looking for with our 24/7 information at your fingertips society.

Is your organization looking for ways to implement a telehealth system and have concerns or questions, or have you already implemented telehealth services and are struggling with its success?

Sunlit Cove Healthcare can help your organization with its telehealth expansion strategy and concerns, including navigating reimbursement. Contact us or give us a call to get started.

A blue and orange logo with a sun in the middle.

Sunlit Cove Healthcare Consultants

We provide management and consulting services to help healthcare businesses run efficiently. Navigating the dynamic and complex revenue cycle management is a challenge for many health plans, health care vendors, and providers. Our consulting services are available to assist with your day-to-day operations and provide expertise in growth and change management. We manage all aspects of your enterprise from the development of the revenue cycle management process to the completion of your business cycle.

Related: Policy and Procedure Development and Implementation