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Report: mHealth, Telemedicine Could Turn Around Physician Burnout

September 25, 2015
by Rajiv Leventhal
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Emerging technologies—in the form of telemedicine, mobile health (mHealth) tools, and connected health devices—may help reverse the current trend of physician burnout, according to a recent report from QuantiaMD, a Waltham, Mass.-based social network for physicians.

As physicians show increasing interest in incorporating telemedicine to their practice, they’re looking to their peers who have been the early adopters in this space to offer advice. As such, 62 percent of physician respondents say they’re not currently offering virtual visits to patients but are “interested in learning more,” while 60 percent of primary care physician respondents say that if a nearby hospital offered them a chance to consult with specialists via video, it would increase their likelihood of referring patients to that hospital, according to the report—a compilation of different surveys from throughout the year.

One physician, who interacted with a multimedia presentation on QuantiaMD, said, “I hope in the near future we no longer have the phrase ‘telemedicine.’ It is sort of like banking; we don’t call it telebanking. When was the last time you actually went to the bank? There are many services that can be provided virtually; telemedicine will help to support the best care to wider population base.”

What’s more, despite the growing popularity of mHealth technologies and programs, physicians perceive a number of barriers to their widespread adoption. Specifically, 32 percent of respondents cite privacy and security concerns; 25 percent cite questions about reimbursement; and 11 percent cite patients’ fear of technology. Meanwhile, many physicians are wary of formally recommending apps to patients without evidence of their benefit, clear professional guidelines regarding their use in practice, and confidence in the security of personal health information that may be generated or transmitted by the app, according to the report.

Further, as the U.S. population ages, connected devices that support remote patient monitoring are seeing an uptick in usage. Physicians see clear advantages to the connected medical home: 61 percent cite greater patient convenience; 59 percent cite better use of healthcare resources; and 58 percent cite improved patient care. Not surprisingly, physicians also perceive barriers to widespread adoption: 38 percent cite reimbursement and/or payment models as barriers, while 27 percent cite lack of provider awareness and/or understanding of connected health technologies.

As such, the report concludes that the healthcare industry is at a tipping point, with telemedicine, mHealth and connected health devices becoming more viable for patients and the healthcare organizations that serve them. “The growing popularity of these tools also offers a glimpse into the future of medical practice—one that offers a higher-touch, more patient-centric approach, and one that physicians may once again recommend to their children,” it reads. 

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