Virtual health care -— whether by phone, text or video — is rapidly becoming more common, but a new study says it's being stymied because doctors and hospitals can't afford to roll it out faster.
The report, by telehealth provider Avizia and the Modern Healthcare media group, also noted the most important thing that would drive more widespread adoption of telehealth is better patient outcomes.
Ron Gutman, CEO of virtual care company HealthTap, agrees. His company addresses a key concern among critics of telehealth — that it doesn't emphasize the need for an ongoing relationship with a primary care doctor. He says the most effective virtual care platforms must create ongoing patient and doctor engagement and make sure all available patient data and information is interoperable and available to health care providers.
Before the new study, consumers were seen more as the roadblock to wider-spread adoption of telehealth. But without enough money to fund the technology, or enough evidence it will save money and improve health, it's hard for health care providers to justify the expense.
HeatlhTap, which has more than 100,000 doctors using their platform, recently partnered with Facebook to provide their services through the Messenger app.
Other recent telehealth news:
• The largest telehealth provider, Teladoc, announced it plans to launch their first chronic care management program by the end of 2016 and will target cardiovascular disease or diabetes care.
• Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey signed legislation that requires health plans to pay for telemedicine across the whole state starting in 2018. The state's current "parity" law said plans only had to pay for telemedicine in rural and medically underserved areas. Twenty-eight states and Washington, D.C., have telemedicine payment parity laws, according to Politico.
• An online study in the Journal of the American Medical Association Dermatology raised concerns about the quality of skin disease diagnosis and treatment provided by direct-to-consumer telemedicine websites.
• Telehealth provider American Well said it plans to allow health plan customers to choose a doctor for a virtual visit.
Alan Pitt, chief medical Officer at Avizia and attending physician and professor of neuroradiology at the Barrow Neurological Institute, says "getting hospitals, physicians, health plans and telehealth companies on the same page will be critical to moving healthcare forward and improving public health."
“We talk a lot about collaboration in healthcare between the payers and providers, but in order to truly deliver on the promise of value-based-care, it’s clear that technologists need to be a part of the business conversation," he says.