Numerous sectors have expanded their usage of virtual care, but behavioral health/psychiatry, radiology and neurology have consistently ranked in the top 5 specialties utilizing telemedicine over the last several years. Health system executives also cited primary care and cardiology as the specialties where telemedicine solutions have highest potential to transform the standard of care. However, according to the report, post acute/smart aging and chronic care management are prime for rapid growth and have some of the most potential for the highest impact on patient care5.
Chronic care management (CCM) comprises a significant percentage of the total health care costs. In fact, about
71%of healthcare spending in the US is associated with those with more than one chronic condition6.
While payers, particularly Medicare, have often put burdensome restrictions on telemedicine reimbursement, taking advantage of virtual options for chronic care patients could improve traditional healthcare facilities’ capacities.
Post acute/Smart Aging
Patients 65+ not only have the most complex chronic conditions, but they can also benefit the most from behavioral health services, especially those caused by loneliness or dementia. Virtual care has the potential to meet the need for comprehensive care that can be provided to older populations on a regular basis. Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement may continue to pose challenges, but since skilled nursing facilities also face financial penalties under Medicare, exploring online options may help ease gaps in care.
A 2019 poll found that out of 2,000 surveyed adults, two-thirds used some type of digital health monitoring device.7 When combined with the fact that devices such as Apple watches contain FDA-approved apps that conduct and transmit EKGs in real time, it’s no surprise that virtual care can offer tremendous benefits to the cardiology sector.
Behavioral health and telepsychiatry offer immense value on their own, but they can also positively impact providers treating patients with other physical ailments, such as chronic conditions. This sector has proven to be an increasingly effective way to meet patients’ needs, especially as it typically requires less investment than other specialities, which may rely on imaging, lab results and other third party costs.
Of course, this is by no means an exhaustive list, as many other specialties continue to
see benefits from telemedicine. Outpatient and long-term care are likely to increase telemedicine offerings as well.