Healthcare execs bullish on telemedicine investments, despite lingering hurdles

Nearly all respondents to a recent ATA poll see telehealth services as giving them a competitive advantage.
By Mike Miliard
01:13 PM
telemedicine investments

Healthcare executives have a sunny outlook for telehealth investing, according to a recent American Telemedicine Association survey touted at its 2017 conference and tradeshow in Orlando this week.

ATA's National Executive Leadership Survey polled more than 170 healthcare executives nationwide and found that a commanding majority – 88 percent – plan to invest in telehealth technology this year. Just 1 percent of execs said they weren't at all likely to invest in telehealth.

The reasons for those IT investments are almost as interesting as the newly robust embrace of a strategy whose slow adoption has long frustrated telehealth advocates. According to ATA, executive respondents see telehealth not just as a way to increase access for underserved patients, but as a competitive advantage.

[Also: NewYork-Presbyterian builds out telemedicine psychiatry and express care services]

A whopping 98 percent of healthcare execs said offering telehealth services could serve as a market differentiator over other organizations that don't have distance-based care capabilities.

Still, barriers that have long stymied more widespread deployment of telehealth remain. Respondents said key challenges over the next three years will continue to include: reimbursement issues (71 percent); licensure and privileges (53 percent); resistance to change (50 percent); lack of evidence of financial ROI or quality gains (36 percent); provider recruitment (22 percent); legal liability (20 percent); bandwidth limitations (19 percent), and privacy and security (15 percent).

The good news is that nearly half of the execs polled say increasing consumer demand will be enough to overcome many of those hurdles, and fuel growth in virtual care in the next few years: 48 percent said consumerism will be the biggest telehealth trend between now and 2020. More than one-quarter (26 percent) said the shift to value-based care will offer further incentive for telehealth adoption.

Twitter: @MikeMiliardHITN
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