Finally, Some Excitement

June 26, 2013 by InTouch Health

Excitement for health reform is building.

Now that we’re seeing the first fruit of health reform (declines in hospital readmissions, slowdown in the growth of healthcare spending, etc.), both payers and providers are starting to show some long-overdue excitement.

At first, they were barely able to grudgingly admit that things like value-based care and telemedicine are good ideas. Now they’re actually getting pumped about it. Some payers are excited by telemedicine’s role in population health management, others by its cost savings, and some by its convenience. Regardless of what’s spurring this newfound enthusiasm, it’s great news for telemedicine.

Payers are beginning to see that telemedicine is the linchpin for population health management. It’s the best tool available for educating and engaging at-risk patients in a non-hospital setting. And it’s no accident that health plans that are in the forefront of patient-centered care are also the most receptive to other telemedicine benefits.

For example, CareFirst Blue Cross Blue Shield in the Mid-Atlantic region has implemented a patient-centered medical program that has already produced $40 million in cost savings from unnecessary hospital visits. CareFirst is also fostering a “telepractice” system at Chesapeake Children’s TherapyCenter, where more than 300 children can now be seen remotely, sparing parents the hassle of D.C./Baltimore rush hour traffic.

So it really doesn’t matter if a payer jumps on the telemedicine bandwagon for reasons other than telestroke. They may be initially sold on convenience or population wellness, but it doesn’t take long for them to see the many benefits of teleICU and telestroke, too.

Throughout our history, there’s always been a discernible Excitement Gap. When John F. Kennedy predicted in 1961 that we’d land a man on the moon in nine years, many people muttered, “Not a chance.” But as each mission got us closer, you could feel the excitement mounting.

The same is true in healthcare, where early doubters are seeing that value-based care and telemedicine aren’t far-off dreams. They’re working…and they’re working now.

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