Trusting Telemedicine

Most agree that telemedicine has a future in medicine and markets continue to grow. Yet while the business community is on board, patients and their doctors need some convincing.

Most agree that telemedicine has a future in medicine and markets continue to grow. In fact, advocates have been saying so for more than 60 years. Investors are supporting teledoc businesses, regulations and barriers are dropping, and insurance companies and payers are backing it. But, what about the patients?

A recent survey sheds some light, and presumably, some heat on the subject. The key findings were:

• 55.9% of people would be somewhat or very uncomfortable with conducting a doctor’s appointment via telemedicine

• Just 35.3% of people would be likely to choose a virtual appointment over an in-person one

• Approximately 75% of people would not trust a virtual diagnosis, or would trust it less than an in-person one.

• 51.8% of people said that more convenient scheduling options or lower cost would make them more likely to use a telemedicine service

• 65% of people would be more likely to conduct a virtual appointment if they had previously seen the doctor in-person

• 63.5% of people would be comfortable conducting a virtual appointment at home, but only 7.5% would be comfortable doing so from a retail kiosk

Doctors and health service organizations need a digical heath strategy that meets the needs of their patients. But, doctors also have issues when it comes to using telemedicine.

1. Should payers pay for telemedicine visits at the same or different amounts as they pay for face to face visits?

2. Should there be a national medical license to facilitate cross-border care?

3. How do we make sure that communications are secure and private?

4. Should there be national cross-credentialing platforms so that a doctor at one hospital or region can connect to another where they do not hold credentials to practice?

5. How do we address telemedicine medical liability and referral liability?

6. What is the role of telemedicine in the medical travel industry and how do we reconcile international standards or no standards?

7. How do we integrate the information derived from a telemedicine consultation into the electronic medical record and make it interoperable with other medical records at a remote site?

8. What should be included in a whole product eCare solution that would include a telemedicine solution?

9. How do we reduce workflow disruption and make it cost-effective for busy doctors who are interested in incorporating telemedicine into their practices but are suffering from IT mandate fatigue?

10. How do we educate patients and doctors about when, where, and how to use telemedicine technologies? Is it as good as a face to face better or worse? Under what circumstances?

11. What is the right telemedicine business model to sustain its growth?

12. How do patients assess the quality and qualifications of telemedicine providers they might never see face to face?

Telemedicine will eventually claim its rightful place as another care distribution channel and be just another tool in the black bag. But it will only cross the chasm when the early majority of patients and doctors trust it and the barriers to adoption and penetration are removed to their satisfaction.