Health care executives and providers have shed fears – and have even become enthusiastic – about the deployment of telemedicine services compared to three years ago, according to a new survey conducted by law firm Foley & Lardner LLP. More than 100 respondents from hospitals, specialty clinics, ancillary services and related organizations completed the survey, and nearly half of respondents hold C-suite or senior-level titles.
Foley’s 2017 Telemedicine and Digital Health Survey reflects a surging demand for telemedicine-based offerings among providers and patients, and a broader acceptance of the technology by other major players in the health care industry. In the 2014 inaugural survey three years ago, 87 percent of respondents did not expect their patients to be using telemedicine services by this time. However, according to this year’s survey, those expectations have been defied with approximately three-quarters of respondents currently offering, or planning to offer, such services, and also having strong intentions to grow those programs (53 percent).
“The pendulum has swung to really embrace telemedicine, which wasn’t close to being adopted and implemented on this scale when the respondents were first surveyed in 2014,” said Nathaniel M. Lacktman, chair of the firm’s Telemedicine Industry Team and co-chair of the firm’s Digital Health Work Group. “Health care providers, entrepreneurs, and patients alike have realized the potential to improve the quality of care in a more convenient, cost-effective manner which, in turn, has put pressure on the payer community to evolve their reimbursement strategies.”
The survey also found that a next wave of opportunity for providers may lie in using telemedicine services to enter lucrative foreign markets, as 80 percent of respondents who plan to offer international programs expect to do so within three years. Yet, a consequence of operating in foreign jurisdictions in this expedited fashion is becoming entangled in the various local laws and regulations that govern health care technology around the world.
- Telemedicine delivers ROI. Providers and patients are largely satisfied with the telemedicine platforms they are using with over half of the organizations that track return on investment reporting savings of 10 percent or more.
- Providers expanding overseas. Despite legal and regulatory uncertainties, 54 percent of respondents said they offer or are interested in offering telemedicine services on an international scale.
- Telemedicine spurring expansion. More than 80 percent of respondents said telemedicine was leading the charge in digital health services, with mobile health applications, remote patient monitoring and personal health records also popular.
- Questions of legality abound. Recording patient encounters, interstate licensing, prescribing drugs, and Medicare coverage are among the most pressing legal and regulatory issues faced by health care organizations and legislators.
- Payment proves problematic. Third-party reimbursement for telemedicine services was identified as a significant challenge to implementation (59 percent).
For more information and to download the complete 2017 Telemedicine and Digital Health Survey report, please click here.
About Foley’s Telemedicine Industry Team
Foley’s Telemedicine Industry Team helps clients embrace emerging issues in telemedicine, enabling them to provide innovative care for patients in new markets around the block and around the world.
By taking advantage of technological advances, health care facilities, professionals, and entrepreneurs have the chance be at the forefront of health care delivery by expanding their service offerings to share their insight with patients independent of geography. With this opportunity comes challenges, as the laws and regulations struggle to keep up with the pace of innovation. It is critical to consult with a legal services provider with the experience and resources to help you grow your business while managing the evolving issues associated with this emerging field.
Our attorneys have the experience necessary to assist with telemedicine program assessment, development, and implementation, nursing hotlines and pharmacy call centers, and multi-state, web-based health care tools and services. We also are well-positioned to provide counsel on operational issues, including payor credentialing, patient verification, and medical record management.