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Easing reimbursement policies could sustain telemedicine expansion

by John R. Fischer, Senior Reporter | August 10, 2020
Health IT Insurance Telemedicine

Concerns like these make payers and policy makers hesitant to expand reimbursement for telehealth, out of fear that implementing it as a service will be costly, without having a significant impact on health outcomes.

The RAND Corporation recommends that clinics hire a telemedicine coordinator to oversee their efforts, and to consider offering telemedicine services to patients from their home. The home model has become more common since the outbreak and allows health centers to service patients who live farther away. It may also be more sustainable due to it using less physical clinic space and allowing salaried providers employed by a clinic to work at full capacity.

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“Prior to COVID-19, many payers focused on ensuring access to telehealth only among the most underserved patients (e.g., rural patients in communities without enough healthcare professionals),” said Uscher-Pines. “Payers are also looking for evidence that telehealth services are equivalent to in-person care in terms of quality. Healthcare providers who can help demonstrate the impact of telehealth on health outcomes can help influence the debate on the reimbursement and regulation of telehealth services.”

Funding for the research was provided by the California Health Care Foundation.

The findings are available online at www.rand.org.

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