About a quarter of healthcare providers report that their telemedicine and telehealth programs are financially sustainable and are improving efficiency, patient volumes and loyalty by filling gaps in medical specialties or helping chronically ill patients, according a poll from KPMG LLP.
KPMG, an audit, tax and advisory firm, polled 120 professionals working for healthcare providers about virtual care. However, the vast majority of the respondents—75 percent—reported that their organizations are still in the early stages of implementing a virtual care program or have not embarked on a program incorporating virtual care. Specifically, about 35 percent of respondents said they have not yet started a program incorporating virtual care, and the remaining 40 percent are in early stages.
The survey results identified the biggest drivers for expediting adoption of virtual care. Almost 30 percent of survey participants identified increasing patient volumes and loyalty as one key driver; along with care coordination of high-risk patients (17 percent), reduce costs for access to medical specialists (17 percent), meaningful use and payer incentives for adoption (13 percent) and patient requests/consumer demand (13 percent).
There continue to be significant challenges to implementing virtual care, according to healthcare providers who participated in the survey, such as maintaining a sustainable business model and regulatory compliance and risk concerns. In addition, 19 percent cited too many other technological priorities and 18 percent cited challenges related to organizational readiness to implement new services/technology.
“Healthcare providers need to think of virtual care as a means to improve patient access and provider efficiency, especially as value-based contracts and other reimbursement incentives gain a greater share of revenue, while meeting patient care needs by filling gaps for key medical specialties,” Richard Bakalar, M.D., managing director at KPMG and a member of the firm’s Global Healthcare Center of Excellence. “Telehealth is rapidly evolving beyond urgent care and is increasingly used for follow up visits and helping chronically ill patients connect with their doctor online. Health plans and government payers are seeing the value from the technology and enhancing reimbursement for virtual care.”