Data Insights

Will you offer telehealth services in 2019?

MGMA Stat

Quality & Patient Experience

Health Information Technology

The Medical Group Management Association’s most recent MGMA Stat poll asked healthcare leaders if they will offer telehealth services in 2019. More than one-third of respondents (35%) indicated that they will not offer telehealth services in 2019, 29% already offer telehealth services, 17% plan to and 19% were unsure. This poll was conducted on February 19, 2019, with 1,220 applicable responses. 

Those not offering telehealth services this year were asked what barriers their organizations face. Many said that they don’t understand how to get reimbursed for telehealth services, have difficulties billing insurances and are concerned about provider burnout. Others said that due to the type of practice they run (radiology, anesthesiology, cardiology, etc.) it makes it extremely difficult or impossible to provide appropriate care via telehealth services.

Those who currently offer telehealth services were also asked a follow-up question: “Has this improved patient care delivery? If so, please describe how.” Of those who responded “yes,” many said that it helps assist patients who live too far from a medical facility. It has also helped improve timeliness of care; as one healthcare leader said, it provides “quick, convenient check-ins, [and] more frequent contacts.” Others said that it allows for after-hours and weekend appointments. Overall, the majority agreed that telehealth services have been beneficial to patients and medical staff.

Asked about the biggest opportunity, many of those who plan to offer telehealth services this year noted that implementing telehealth services would give them the opportunity to improve patient access, reduce wait times, provide patients with after-hours care, give doctors a good source for follow-ups and assist them in avoiding loss of business.

Whether you plan to implement telehealth services, the MGMA Research & Analysis report Telehealth: Adoption and Best Practices (2018) will help answer some of these questions, including the steps needed to implement a telehealth program. For example, in the report, MGMA recommends taking the following steps when implementing a telehealth program:
 
  • Set clear goals and tie them to your strategic plan. Telehealth works best when it is part of your program. The fewer changes that you need to make, the easier adoption will be.
  • Understand your patients’ wants and needs.
  • Determine how telehealth supports your value-based care initiatives.
  • Research reimbursement and licensure options and requirements in your area.
  • Engage and educate your staff.
  • Research telehealth vendors and platforms.
  • Reach out to colleagues in your specialty who have already adopted telehealth so you can learn from their implementation experience.
  • Discuss liability issues with your medical malpractice carrier.
  • Be patient, mindful and realistic with the timeline. It may take more than a year between idea and implementation.
  • Include the new services in your marketing plan.

MGMA Stat is a national poll that addresses practice management issues, the impact of new legislation and related topics. Participation is open to all healthcare leaders. See results of other polls and information on how to participate in MGMA Stat.

Resources
  • Coming soon, online office hours with Telehealth expert Rachel Dixon! We are excited to announce a monthly forum called “Telehealth Office Hours”, where an expert consultant (Rachel Dixon) hosts a series of interactive webinars with one goal: To make YOU the expert. Like normal consulting sessions but at a fraction of the cost, this is a rare opportunity to seize from a healthcare authority. To stay in the loop, email consulting@mgma.com.
  • Access Telehealth Adoption and Best Practices webinar (on-demand)
  • Access MGMA's 2019 Physician Fee Schedule Analysis, which lays out telehealth reimbursement and coding changes

Learn more about MGMA Stat
Learn more about MGMA Consulting

Sarah Taylor
Research Assistant
MGMA

 
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