A survey performed by the American Medical Affiliation discovered that the overwhelming majority of doctor respondents say they’re at present utilizing telehealth – and plenty of of these reporting a lower say they’re offering a mixture of digital and in-person care.
The survey, which was performed on-line in late 2021, explored the variations in telehealth use amongst 2,232 physicians.
The outcomes advised enduring curiosity in digital care amongst physicians.
“I’m a spouse, mom and in a twin doctor partnership, and telehealth permits me to stability my skilled and household obligations with out leaving my occupation for household causes in the course of my profession,” mentioned one respondent.
WHY IT MATTERS
Because the potential finish of the general public well being emergency looms, the way forward for telehealth coverage has been below growing scrutiny.
And whilst telehealth use has decreased since its 2020 spike, the AMA survey reveals many physicians are nonetheless counting on the modality.
Amongst doctor respondents, 85% point out they at present use telehealth, with the vast majority of decreased use attributed to a mixture of digital and in-person visits.
Different decreases are because of affected person or clinician desire, know-how limitations for sufferers, or perception that telehealth is inappropriate for the doctor’s specialty.
Most physicians say telehealth has allowed them to offer extra complete high quality care.
“As a pediatrician, it offers me a possibility to see kids and their households in a setting (residence) by which they really feel snug, and this typically reveals strengths of the household,” mentioned one respondent.
Of these utilizing telehealth, the overwhelming majority – 93% – is conducting reside, interactive video visits with sufferers, with 69% performing audio-only visits.
Barely greater than half of respondents say they’re motivated to extend telehealth use of their practices. Phone and Zoom are nonetheless the first platforms used to ship care, and fewer than half of respondents report having the ability to entry their telehealth platform by way of their digital well being document.
And solely 8% mentioned they depend on distant monitoring applied sciences with sufferers of their houses.
In relation to challenges, physicians mentioned the digital divide was the largest barrier to care.
“A lot of my sufferers are usually not that properly versed in know-how and telehealth is an actual large problem for them,” mentioned one respondent.
Protection, cost and reimbursement uncertainty additionally weighed closely on respondents’ minds.
“I fear about phone visits now not being coated! They’re a big a part of the care that we are able to present to our sufferers, who’ve restricted entry to different digital know-how, Wi-Fi, et cetera,” mentioned a respondent.
“Cost parity is important for telephone-only encounters. Sufferers shouldn’t be penalized for entry to care if they don’t have the know-how or can not simply entry care,” mentioned one other.
THE LARGER TREND
The general public well being emergency, which was simply prolonged for the ninth time earlier this month, has enabled telehealth growth by way of momentary flexibilities.
However advocates have constantly pushed Congress to take everlasting motion to safeguard entry to care, citing fears round a “telehealth cliff.”
In March, the U.S. Home and Senate offered some padding after they authorised a spending invoice that will prolong momentary flexibilities.
“We’re longing for an extended extension sooner or later or a everlasting resolution to offer extra certainty to sufferers and suppliers that telehealth gained’t disappear, however vastly recognize this preliminary extension. We’ll proceed to work with Congress and HHS on any further authorities that could be wanted,” mentioned Kyle Zebley, vp of public coverage on the American Telemedicine Affiliation and government director of ATA Motion, on the time.
ON THE RECORD
“Permitting sufferers to be of their house is a key element of creating telehealth extra accessible and handy,” mentioned AMA in its survey report.
“The AMA will advocate for equitable entry for under-resourced affected person populations and communities, together with however not restricted to, supporting elevated funding and planning for telehealth infrastructure akin to broadband and internet-connected gadgets,” it continued.
Kat Jercich is senior editor of Healthcare IT Information.
E-mail: [email protected]
Healthcare IT Information is a HIMSS Media publication.