Telemedicine platforms, like all other innovative technological solutions, require proper training and the purchase of appropriate equipment. The extent of the training and the types of equipment required to depend on the sort of solution that is needed.
For example, a more detailed and widespread inpatient telemedicine program which is designed for use between primary healthcare providers and specialists for consultation will obviously require in-depth training and the purchase of equipment such as a telemedicine cart and several types of mobile health devices.
Detractors of telemedicine maintain that virtual visits lack a necessary personal touch, and do not allow for physical exams which are essential for a complete diagnosis. If there is an increase in providers and patients resorting to online consultations rather than face-to-face in-person visits, what could be the possible ramifications of this?
There is no denying the effectiveness and value of in-person visits between patients and healthcare providers – in some cases, they are essential. Telemedicine needs to be used to enhance and complement these in-person visits; doctors can use it to check-in with patients and ensure that care and treatment are proceeding smoothly.
In addition, telemedicine is also great for the treatment of small, minor conditions such as infections, in which case in-person consultations are not usually required. In such scenarios, telemedicine benefits providers, patients and the entire healthcare system as it is both time-saving and cost-effective.
Reimbursement can often be a tricky subject where telemedicine is concerned, as state policies regarding this new healthcare technology keep changing. Various states now have parity laws in place which make it mandatory for private payers to provide reimbursement for telemedicine consultations, as they would for in-person consultations.
Ultimately, the best way to figure out matters of reimbursement is to call top payers and request information on their policies. You may also find it helpful to view our guide on telemedicine reimbursement, as well as this matrix developed by ATA on state policies in this regard.
Another point to be noted is the fact that doctors and providers who are using telemedicine will include a convenience fee in their charges to patients, and these can range from $35 – $125 for each visit. This fee is charged directly to patients and is in addition to reimbursement through payers. However, despite the fact that patients have to pay this fee out-of-pocket, many providers have discovered that patients are generally willing to do so for the sake of added convenience.