As telemedicine gains momentum, more health providers are moving from stand-alone programs to system-wide approaches.

In a survey of 436 U.S. health care executives, physicians, nurses, hospitals, and other health professionals, 25% of respondents with a telemedicine program began with a departmental approach but are now shifting to an enterprise system, 39% had an established enterprise system, and 36% remain with a departmental basis.

The survey of health care professionals’ priorities, objectives, challenges, and telemedicine models of care was conducted between December 2016 and January 2017 for REACH Health, a telemedicine software company.

Fifty-one percent of respondents reported that telemedicine is a top priority or high priority, a decrease from last year’s survey in which 66% of respondents said so. This shift could be linked to a continuing evolution and maturation of telemedicine as more programs move from ad-hoc project status to mainstream service, according to the report.

The telemedicine features most valuable to health providers were clinical documentation, the ability to send documentation to/from the electronic medical record, and the ability to analyze consult data. For the second year, health providers rated their top three telemedicine objectives as: improving patient outcomes, improving patient convenience, and increasing patient engagement.

Overall, health providers responded that the possible repeal and replacement of the Affordable Care Act would be positive for telemedicine. Forty-one percent of respondents said that patient adoption and the use of telemedicine would increase with ACA repeal/replace and 40% of health providers said that internal adoption and use of telemedicine would rise with replacement of the health law.

Just under half (47%) said they were uncertain how health care law changes would impact telemedicine parity laws, and 45% were unsure how repeal and replace would affect Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement for telemedicine services.

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