This expectation for more convenient care, combined with the unavailability of many overburdened medical professionals (especially primary care providers) have led to the rise of telemedicine companies. Many offer patients 24/7 access to medical care with an on-call doctor contracted by that company. Others offer hospitals and larger health centers access to extra clinical staff and specialists, for outsourcing of special cases (common model among teleradiology companies). Still others provide a telemedicine platform for physicians to use to offer virtual visits with their own patients. Increasingly, telemedicine is becoming a way to give medical practices an edge in a competitive healthcare landscape where it’s difficult to stay independent or maintain a healthy bottom line.
But getting doctors to jump on board is easier said than done, and takes time. Many are afraid of liability, as it's possible to miss something during a remote visit. And for years, it wasn't clear whether they would get paid as much as an in-person visit. Reimbursement questions are still getting resolved across different states, but most of the commercial and government plans are on board with the idea of telemedicine -- at least in specific circumstances.
On July 7th, 2015, House representatives introduced the Medicare Telehealth Parity Act of 2015. If passed, the bill will expand what telemedicine services Medicare will cover and get rid of many limitations (like the requirements for what qualifies as an “originating site“). Legislation like this one could have a huge impact on coverage for remote patient monitoring and other telemedicine services delivered to the patient in their own home.
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