What’s Propelling Telemedicine’s Continued Expansion In 2016?

Telemedicine is rapidly becoming an accepted part of the health care delivery system. It represents one of the biggest shifts in healthcare delivery over the last decade, and 2016 will see widespread growth of telemedicine in value-based care and patient convenient access. The global telemedicine market is expected to expand at a compound annual growth rate of 14.3% over the next five years, reaching $36.2 billion, compared to $14.3 billion in 2014.

Advances in telemedicine technology, evolving regulations and relentless efforts of insurers and providers to provide cost-effective quality care is the reason behind its expanding popularity. This is amplified by the growing demand for convenience, innovation and personalized care among healthcare consumers around the world.

Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs)

In 2016, an increase in the use of telemedicine by Medicare Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) is expected. Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) are designed to improve the delivery of healthcare, increase cost savings, and share risks across various entities. The 2014 CMS data showed that only 27% of ACOs increased quality and cost savings enough to qualify for financial incentives under the Medicare Shared Savings Program (MSSP). However, only 20% of ACOs have telemedicine programs in place. These conditions are ideal for widespread telemedicine adoption. The time is now for ACOs to take advantage of telemedicine in its various forms as a means to improve quality of care, monitor at-risk patients and achieve cost savings.

Reimbursement Issues

Reimbursement issues are the chief barrier to telemedicine implementation, however that is rapidly-changing now. For example, on the private side, Cigna has been covering care through telehealth provider MDLIVE for its self-insured employer customers. Aetna, Anthem, and Humana are also offering comparable coverage. On the public side, Medicare covers telehealth only in rural areas at qualifying originating sites, but adoption among various government programs is set to expand in 2016. If the Medicare Telehealth Parity Act of 2015, which is currently making its way through the House of Representatives, becomes law, it will expand coverage to include other locations.

International Markets

According to the American Telemedicine Association, approximately 200 academic medical centers in the U.S. offer video-based consulting across the world. The expertise of U.S.-trained physicians are in high demand in international market. In 2016, this demand is likely to grown by leaps and bounds, as providers and healthcare executives leverage telemedicine to access new patient populations and increase revenue. For instance, the Zhengzhou International TeleMedicine Center (ZITC) in Zhengzhou, China— is a partnership between UCLA Health and the city of Zhengzhou. This partnership provides a clinically mutually beneficial relationship and also allows UCLA to expand its brand globally.

In state level, last year more than 200 pieces of legislation related to telemedicine were introduced across 42 states. 29 states and Washington D.C. have already enacted laws, many of which took effect January 2016, ensuring some level of commercial insurance coverage for telemedicine.

Medicare provides much of the guidance for Telemedicine or Telehealth services and changes occur almost every year. Keeping up with the changing rules and regulations can be challenging. Join renowned speaker Duane C. Abbey, Ph.D., in this session to understand the concept of telemedicine and how it works in details.

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