As more health care organizations turn to telemedicine progams to improve access to care in rural areas, many do so before they’ve fully explored the value of services for their patients and organization or before setting the best strategies for growth.
A new report from the University of Iowa-based Rural Policy Research Institute (RUPRI) Center for Rural Health Policy Analysis identifies several important considerations to guide strategic decision-making when implementing a telemedicine program. These include service identification, lack of revenue generation, and strategic and operational challenges for implementing services.
While health systems often initiate telemedicine programs to keep patients in their home communities and reduce travel costs, the focus has not been on creating programs that generate revenue.
According to Dr. Thomas Vaughn, associate professor of health management and policy at the University of Iowa College of Public Health and lead author of the report, generating revenue with telemedicine programs has been challenging because it requires a scale that’s difficult to achieve. “Despite the lack of a strong financial case for telemedicine to date, strategic reasons may justify providing this service,” says Dr. Vaughn.
He notes that as alternative payment models continue to push greater financial risk toward providers and health systems, maintaining their patient population and delivering care in the most cost-effective manner make telemedicine more attractive to providers.Friday Letter Submission, Publish on March 20