State support for reimbursing telemedicine providers is growing at a fast and furious pace—as is consumer adoption of telemedicine services. According to the American Telemedicine Association’s 2019 State of the States Report: Coverage and Reimbursement, 40 states and the District of Columbia have adopted substantive policies or received awards to expand telehealth coverage and reimbursement—just since 2017. In doing so, they’re also increasing access for patients and incentivizing providers (including urgent care operators) to jump into the telemedicine pool. While adoption has been slow in urgent care, it may be a setting ideally suited for telemedicine, given the ebb-and-flow of patient volume in a “typical” day. Operators interested in offering telemedicine may find the time to do so is now, if they’re expecting such a move to offer a competitive advantage. According to a study published recently in the Journal of the American Medical Association, interest among physicians has doubled over the past 3 years. The number of physician participants who self-reported “telemedicine” as a skill continues to grow approximately 20% a year. On the consumer side, according to a report from CNBC, increased usage is driven by ease of access via telemedicine apps. Of note when crafting marketing messages, the report found this to be especially true for working mothers.
Telemedicine Reimbursements Are Expanding Along with Utilization; Is It Time to Try It?