Telehealth is becoming the fastest expanding field for medical services, with Medicare and private insurer companies now offering more reimbursements. What this means for the public is that telehealth services will be made more widely available. It will also make things easier for medical providers to offer these innovative healthcare options to people in need of healthcare. As the demand for telemedicine services keeps expanding, insurance companies are scrambling to establish their position in what will definitely become a large part of healthcare in the next few years.
What Is Telehealth?
Telehealth or telemedicine is an innovative means to connect patients to healthcare providers. It is done through HIPAA secure video chat; enabling healthcare professionals to meet with patients remotely. This can simplify and organize medical services ranging from a single provider practice to large scale enterprise organizations. This software is ever evolving to meet the needs of both patients and healthcare providers with services such as cloud-based medical records and prescriptions, as well as dynamic scheduling. These readily available services are creating a convenient atmosphere for a range of services to be offered at a more affordable rate.
Medicare And Private Insurer Reimbursements
With the growing demand for telehealth services, private insurance companies, and government subsidized healthcare programs are implementing insurance reimbursements due to telehealth being highly cost effective and practical. BCBS of Alabama, which operates in a mostly rural state where many people have trouble accessing care, recently shifted gears, in large part because of rapid advances in enabling telehealth technologies. As of last Dec. 1, the insurer began paying providers for five telemedicine services, including behavioral health and stroke. Amid rising demand, the insurer determined that the technology used to treat patients in those categories was “indistinguishable from a face-to-face visit,” McIntyre said. Insurers are also hoping telehealth will live up to its hype by keeping people out of more expensive healthcare settings. A new Senate Bill, known as the Creating Opportunities Now for Necessary and Effective Care Technologies (CONNECT) for Health Act was created recently. According to an unofficial summary of the bill, CONNECT for Health defines telehealth as the use of telecommunications technologies to deliver healthcare, health information, or health education at a distance. It includes video conferencing used in remote consultations, remote patient monitoring (RPM), and store-and-forward technologies for transferring medical data for analysis and care. Many people are excited to watch telemedicine expand and with insurers offering reimbursements for these services, telehealth is expected to quickly evolve.