Capitalizing on Telehealth’s Potential

September 2020

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Telehealth adoption has increased more than 4,500% in the last year, predominately due to the crucial role it has played in helping manage patient care during the COVID-19 pandemic. Following its U.S. emergence in March, federal and state governments, as well as private insurers, rushed to relax restrictions to provide widespread access to telehealth.

Now, as our healthcare system reimagines the way it provides care in the long term, telehealth adoption has taken center stage, with President Trump urging a permanent extension of telehealth policies. And yet, ensuring access to it is not without challenges, despite significant interest from providers and patients.
 

Top 7 Challenges

To Broader Adoption, Access:
 

HC_Telehealth-Potential_Insight_9-20_Inco-1.png1. Misdiagnosis

Misdiagnoses are not uncommon in the healthcare industry, even in an in-person setting. However, the risk of error can increase virtually, where certain standard tests are not able to be conducted. Misdiagnosis is not only a risk from a patient health perspective,
but it also results in increased costs for both providers and consumers.

 

HC_Telehealth-Potential_Insight_9-20_Incon-2.png 2. Burnout

Clinician burnout is a growing concern and while telehealth provides an opportunity for quicker appointments, it also has the potential to add to an already mounting workload for providers.

 

HC_Telehealth-Potential_Insight_9-20_Incon-3.png 3. Multistate Services & Tax Implications

Given telehealth’s ability to provide access to anyone, virtually anywhere, there’s an appeal in offering services across state lines. The issue, however, is two-fold. Not only does this sometimes require physicians to receive licensing in more than one state, but taxation implications come into play. Currently, a patchwork of state statutes, regulations and judicial decisions, inclusive of the U.S. Supreme Court, govern state taxation and guide how providers apply state taxation to telehealth services. However, federal guidance is lacking.

 

HC_Telehealth-Potential_Insight_9-20_Incon-4.png 4. Lack of Access

Telehealth generally seeks to make care more accessible, however because it requires broadband internet access, some consumers (including many who would especially benefit) are unable to receive these services.

 

HC_Telehealth-Potential_Insight_9-20_Incon-5.png 5. Fragmented Regulations

As it stands, states have the discretion to decide how they want to handle telehealth,
which is particularly challenging for multistate providers. Additionally, given that insurance is also state-regulated, policies will be different in each state. This can cause confusion among providers and otherwise makes widespread adoption difficult.

 

HC_Telehealth-Potential_Insight_9-20_Incon-6.png 6. Payment

Fragmented regulations, reimbursement and coverage for telehealth services are and will continue to be significant challenges for providers and their patients. For example, there is no guarantee of payment parity between telehealth and in-person care. Though telehealth serves to hopefully reduce costs and increase access to services, it could also discourage healthcare organizations as there is no guarantee of comparable payment.

 

HC_Telehealth-Potential_Insight_9-20_Incon-7.png 7. Patient Experience

Gone are the days when patient experience may have been an afterthought of providers. Even before the pandemic, 72% of provider organizations cited improved patient experience as a digital objective, BDO’s 2020 Healthcare Digital Transformation Survey found. That objective has become more urgent, as providers’ long-term financial viability now depends on it—especially in the telehealth setting. In fact, creating a positive patient experience can improve 60% of the variables that impact the amount and timeliness of reimbursement, BDO analysis found.


 
 

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