December 04, 2018
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AMA: Only 15% of physicians practice telemedicine

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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.