Growing Number of Healthcare Professionals Regard Telemedicine as a Top Priority for their Organizations, Survey Finds | Healthcare Informatics Magazine | Health IT | Information Technology Skip to content Skip to navigation

Growing Number of Healthcare Professionals Regard Telemedicine as a Top Priority for their Organizations, Survey Finds

March 29, 2016
by Heather Landi
| Reprints
Click To View Gallery

Telemedicine continues to evolve from a specialty-centric offering to a mainstream technology service and a growing number of healthcare professionals regard telemedicine as one of their highest priorities for their healthcare organization, a recent survey finds.

Reach Health’s 2016 U.S. Telemedicine Industry Benchmark Survey surveyed 390 healthcare professionals, including executives, physicians, nurses and other professionals, and gathered input on their priorities, objectives and challenges, telemedicine program models and management structures, service lines and settings of care and their telemedicine platforms.

Reach Health, a telemedicine software company, also compared the findings to the results of its 2015 survey to better understand trends and changes in telemedicine.

Among the key findings in the survey, nearly two-thirds of survey participants (66 percent) noted telemedicine as their top priority or one of their highest priorities for their healthcare organizations, which represents a 10 percent increase from 2015. According to the survey report authors, telemedicine continues to evolve from a specialty offering to a mainstream service, “due in part to a growing population of aging and unhealthy individuals, coupled with increased shortages of specialist physicians.”

When surveyed about top objectives for telemedicine programs, patient-oriented objectives, including patient outcomes, improving patient convenience and increasing patient engagement and satisfaction, occupy the top three positions as the most common objectives.

When asked to rate their success in achieving telemedicine program objectives, respondents indicated a high degree of success with those same top three patient-oriented objectives (improving patient outcomes, improving patient convenience and increasing patient engagement). Respondents indicated the highest degree of success with providing remote or rural patients with access to specialists.

The survey report also takes a look at the telemedicine program attributes that are most highly correlated with success. According to the survey report authors, some attributes exhibit a strong correlation with success, such as the priority of the telemedicine program as ranked among other hospital priorities. For instance, telemedicine programs ranked as a top priority are 62 percent more likely (76 percent versus 47 percent) to be highly successful than those ranked as a low priority.

“Others, such as the degree of focus for the program manager, also exhibit a high correlation to program success. Executive support reveals a significantly higher correlation to success than adequacy of funding,” the survey authors wrote. Telemedicine programs with a dedicated program manager or coordinator are 43 percent more likely (67 percent versus 46 percent ) to be highly successful than those with a program manager or coordinator that spends less than half of their time focused on the program, the survey findings showed.

The survey also addressed telemedicine program challenges and survey participants identified and ranked their challenges in terms of those that remain unaddressed, partially addressed, fully addressed or not a challenge. Not surprisingly, issues related to reimbursement and electronic medical record systems post the top impediments to telemedicine, accounting for six out of the top seven challenges.

Among EMR systems challenges, respondents identified lack of common EHR/EMR in hub and spoke hospitals, lack of integration with current EHR/EMR and lack of native capabilities in EHR/EMR as top impediments. EMR challenges that remain unaddressed outnumber by more than 2 times those that have been fully addressed.

“Reimbursement, both government and private, is creating the most significant obstacle to success, accounting for all of the top three unaddressed challenges to telemedicine,” the study authors wrote. “In spite of ongoing challenges related to reimbursement and EMR systems, healthcare providers continue to actively plan, implement and expand telemedicine programs.”

Respondents also identified determining return on investment (ROI) as a challenge, however the survey authors note that improving financial return was least frequently cited as a top objective, “possibly indicating that challenges related to determining ROI are not currently a major concern.”

And, although physician compensation remains relatively high on the list of challenges (22 percent cited it as an unaddressed challenge), physician acceptance has improved compared to 2015 and is relatively low on the list of challenges.

The survey also found that the maturity of telemedicine programs varies widely among both service lines and settings of care. In general, settings requiring highly specialized treatment are more mature than those requiring generalized treatment. One notable exception is e-visits and primary care physicians, which have grown rapidly during the last three years. “Regardless of maturity, activity remains high in terms of implementation and planning across all care settings,” the survey authors wrote.

And, as the telemedicine industry continues to mature, hospitals and healthcare systems exhibit an increasing trend toward an enterprise approach to telemedicine, with larger systems moving more rapidly in this direction compared to stand-alone hospitals.









Get the latest information on Health IT and attend other valuable sessions at this two-day Summit providing healthcare leaders with educational content, insightful debate and dialogue on the future of healthcare and technology.

Learn More



Study will Leverage Connecticut HIE to Help Prevent Suicides

A new study will aim to leverage CTHealthLink, a physician-led health information exchange (HIE) in Connecticut, to help identify the factors leading to suicide and to ultimately help prevent those deaths.

Duke Health First to Achieve HIMSS Stage 7 Rating in Analytics

North Carolina-based Duke Health has become the first U.S. healthcare institution to be awarded the highest honor for analytic capabilities by HIMSS Analytics.

NIH Releases First Dataset from Adolescent Brain Development Study

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) announced the release of the first dataset from the Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development (ABCD) study, which will enable scientists to conduct research on the many factors that influence brain, cognitive, social, and emotional development.

Boston Children's Accelerates Data-Driven Approach to Clinical Research

In an effort to bring a more data-driven approach to clinical research, Boston Children’s Hospital has joined the TriNetX global health research network.

Paper Records, Films Most Common Type of Healthcare Data Breach, Study Finds

Despite the high level of hospital adoption of electronic health records and federal incentives to do so, paper and films were the most frequent location of breached data in hospitals, according to a recent study.

AHA Appoints Senior Advisor for Cybersecurity and Risk

The American Hospital Association (AHA) has announced that John Riggi has joined the association as senior advisor for cybersecurity and risk.