The Council of Accountable Physician Practices (CAPP), a coalition of multi-specialty medical groups and health systems across the United States, is a firm advocate of using telehealth to improve the healthcare delivery process. Recently, they released a new white paper titled “A Roadmap to Telehealth Adoption: From Vision to Business Model” which highlights six critically important concepts to keep in mind as stakeholders collaborate to make the vision of telehealth a successful model for business:
- Telehealth services can be either integrated with care services or “layered” on top of them, depending on how providers develop their own telehealth capabilities to link patients with their own doctors, or engage a third-party company to provide the service and advice. CAPP points out that when patients access their own doctors via telehealth, it’s possible to integrate the digital communications with the patient’s medical team and their electronic health record. Third-party vendors often cannot access a patient’s medical record, do not consult with their regular physicians, and may be unfamiliar with resources available locally to patients. With a more integrated approach, providers have the full view of the patient’s condition and can avoid unnecessary risk.
- Telehealth services will help to cut down on the costs of healthcare in the long run, but the true value lies in the improvements to quality, access, and availability of care that telehealth enables. Physician visits by telephone or video provide faster and more convenient service to patients while also making available more in-person slots to patients whose conditions require it. The ability to immediately link a patient with their doctor and specialists for follow up as well as remove the barrier of transportation and time to visit the doctor’s office are both simple ways that telehealth tools improve care delivery.
- Payers can and should incentivize medical groups and health systems to integrate and coordinate telehealth programs by liberalizing reimbursement rules for telehealth programs and expanding risk-sharing arrangements including capitation and bundling.
- State licensing boards need to work together to streamline the licensing process for physicians. Because a provider must currently be licensed in the state in which their patient is located, reciprocal licensing is important to allow physicians who care for patients scattered across hospitals in remote areas or across state lines.
- Stakeholders must educate patients about the value of telehealth services to make them more willing to try it. Patients need to know what telehealth can and can’t do, how their privacy is protected, and when telehealth can complement or substitute for in-person care. Educating patients is particularly important for helping them determine which modality can be used for the optimal out-of-pocket cost.
- Providers need access to evidence-based research on the best practices for telehealth technology. Guidelines about the proper use of tools for certain specialties and certain conditions, and general best practices for issues including eye contact and lighting, are important for improving the quality and safety of telehealth. Involving providers from a variety of specialties is the best way to ensure that such guidelines are comprehensive and informative.
To learn more about the Council of Accountable Physician Practices, visit: https://accountablecaredoctors.org/
To read the white paper and learn how telehealth can become a sustainable reality, visit: https://accountablecaredoctors.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/08/capp_telehealth_primer.pdf
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