In the JournalsPerspective

AMA: Only 15% of physicians practice telemedicine

Only 15.4% of physicians worked in practices that utilized telemedicine for patient interactions, such as diagnosing or treating patients, managing patients with chronic conditions or following up with patients, according to an AMA press release.

The association also found that only 11.2% of all physicians worked in practices that used telemedicine for interactions with health care professionals, such as getting second opinions or conducting specialty consultations.

These 2016 survey results, which AMA said were the first nationally representative estimate of physician telemedicine use and purpose, were published in Health Affairs.

“While regulatory and legislative changes have been implemented to encourage the use of telemedicine, there are no nationally representative estimates on its use by physicians across all medical specialties,” Carol K. Kane, PhD, AMA’s director of economic and health policy research division, said in the release.

“To fill this information gap, the AMA study surveyed 3,500 physicians to provide needed data that will help assess potential barriers and create strategies to promote telemedicine adoption,” she added.

Other survey results include:

  • Radiologists (39.5%) had the highest use of telemedicine for patient interactions, followed by psychiatrists (27.8%), and cardiologists (24.1%).
  • Emergency medicine physicians (38.8%) had the highest use of telemedicine for interactions with health care professionals, followed by pathologists (30.4%), and radiologists (25.5%).
  • Videoconferencing, the most widespread means of utilizing telemedicine, was used in 12.6% of the practices employing physicians, followed by storing and forwarding of patient data for analysis and diagnosis (9.4%) and remote patient monitoring (7.3%).
  • Practices with four or fewer physicians (8.2%) were the least likely to use telemedicine for patient interactions and practices with 50 or more physicians were the most likely (26.5%).

“Our work suggests that despite regulatory and legislative changes designed to encourage the use of telemedicine, the financial burden of implementing it may be a continuing barrier, especially for small practices,” Kane and Kurt Gillis, PhD, AMA’s principal economist in the economic and health policy research division wrote in Health Affairs.

“Even after we controlled for specialty differences, we found that physicians in larger practices and ones that were not physician-owned were more likely to report that their practices used telemedicine for interactions with both patients and health care professionals,” they added.. – by Janel Miller

Disclosures : Healio Family Medicine was unable to determine the authors’ relevant financial disclosures prior to publication.


 

 

 

 

Only 15.4% of physicians worked in practices that utilized telemedicine for patient interactions, such as diagnosing or treating patients, managing patients with chronic conditions or following up with patients, according to an AMA press release.

The association also found that only 11.2% of all physicians worked in practices that used telemedicine for interactions with health care professionals, such as getting second opinions or conducting specialty consultations.

These 2016 survey results, which AMA said were the first nationally representative estimate of physician telemedicine use and purpose, were published in Health Affairs.

“While regulatory and legislative changes have been implemented to encourage the use of telemedicine, there are no nationally representative estimates on its use by physicians across all medical specialties,” Carol K. Kane, PhD, AMA’s director of economic and health policy research division, said in the release.

“To fill this information gap, the AMA study surveyed 3,500 physicians to provide needed data that will help assess potential barriers and create strategies to promote telemedicine adoption,” she added.

Other survey results include:

  • Radiologists (39.5%) had the highest use of telemedicine for patient interactions, followed by psychiatrists (27.8%), and cardiologists (24.1%).
  • Emergency medicine physicians (38.8%) had the highest use of telemedicine for interactions with health care professionals, followed by pathologists (30.4%), and radiologists (25.5%).
  • Videoconferencing, the most widespread means of utilizing telemedicine, was used in 12.6% of the practices employing physicians, followed by storing and forwarding of patient data for analysis and diagnosis (9.4%) and remote patient monitoring (7.3%).
  • Practices with four or fewer physicians (8.2%) were the least likely to use telemedicine for patient interactions and practices with 50 or more physicians were the most likely (26.5%).

“Our work suggests that despite regulatory and legislative changes designed to encourage the use of telemedicine, the financial burden of implementing it may be a continuing barrier, especially for small practices,” Kane and Kurt Gillis, PhD, AMA’s principal economist in the economic and health policy research division wrote in Health Affairs.

“Even after we controlled for specialty differences, we found that physicians in larger practices and ones that were not physician-owned were more likely to report that their practices used telemedicine for interactions with both patients and health care professionals,” they added.. – by Janel Miller

Disclosures : Healio Family Medicine was unable to determine the authors’ relevant financial disclosures prior to publication.


 

 

 

 

    Perspective
    Judy E. Kim

    Judy E. Kim

    This 2016 AMA survey of 3,500 physicians found, not surprisingly, that there was a wide spectrum across specialties and practices in how telemedicine was used to interact with patients as well as with other health care professionals, with radiology, pathology, psychiatry, emergency medicine and larger practices leading the way. But the overall usage was low at about 15%. There was also differences in the type of telemedicine being used between videoconferencing (12.6%), remote patient monitoring (7.3%) and store-and-forward of data (9.4%). The last modality was the most commonly used method for ophthalmology with 14% of 98 respondents using it. The authors conclude that some of these trends are driven by the nature of specialty, the types of patient/health care professional interaction, and reimbursement.

    I agree with the authors that, while telemedicine has multiple benefits and regulatory and legislative changes are increasing to encourage the use of telemedicine, the financial burden of implementing it, incorporating into the workflow, and poor or unclear reimbursement issues continue to be significant barriers. However, I expect the usage of telemedicine to continue to grow in the future, including in ophthalmology, as the technology improves, becomes cheaper, as deep learning continues to get incorporated, as home and remote monitoring gains momentum, and as for-profit companies on telemedicine starts to expand in the market place.

    • Judy E. Kim, MD
    • OSN Retina/Vitreous Board Member

    Disclosures: Kim reports she is on the advisory board for Carl Zeiss Meditec and Notal Vision and receives research support from Notal Vision and Optovision.