The use of video-based telemedicine has more than tripled over the past year, according to a recent survey from Rock Health, a venture fund dedicated to digital health.
Rock Health found that video telemedicine use jumped from 7 percent in 2015 to 22 percent in 2016, with usage at its highest within the 25-to-34 age bracket. Although the top three telemedicine platforms are telephone (59 percent) email (41 percent) and text messaging (29 percent), the survey found that the telemedicine medium with the highest satisfaction rate is live video, with 83 percent of patients expressing moderate or extreme satisfaction.
Rock Health notes that payment issues remain the most challenging barrier to telehealth adoption. Thirty percent of telemedicine visits are paid out-of-pocket, according to the survey, compared to 11 percent of visits covered by insurance and 10 percent of visits covered by employers.
Becker’s Hospital Review, quoting a 2015 survey from Anthem and the American Academy of Family Physicians’ Robert Graham Center, said that 85 percent of physicians would consider using telehealth if they were ensured reimbursement.
The recently passed 21st Century Cures Act is expected to further boost the use of telehealth by increasing Medicare beneficiaries’ access to the services, according to URAC, a nonprofit health care quality organization.
A provision in the act requires the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services and Medicare (CMS) Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC) to report to Congress on the current and potential uses of telehealth in the Medicare program.
“It’s clear Congress wants the federal government to address the role of telehealth in the future of Medicare,” said Aaron Turner-Phifer, URAC’s director of government relations and policy. “In a direct and bipartisan way, Congress expressed its belief that telehealth can increase patients’ access to quality care and wants to study expanding its use.”