Telehealth use jumps at inpatient settings

By | August 6, 2019

Dive Brief:

  • The use of telehealth services has surged in inpatient settings but remains relatively flat for outpatient locations, according to a pair of surveys released Tuesday by data and analytics company Definitive Healthcare.
  • Providers in both care settings are planning to invest in the technology going forward, with 90% slated to do so in the next 18 months, according to the surveys.
  • Cost is the primary barrier to adoption for inpatient providers. One in five outpatient respondents also cited “satisfaction with the practice’s current solutions and services” as a primary obstacle to adoption.

Dive Insight:

Telehealth adoption has held promise for years, but adoption has been relatively slow. A recent survey found uptake has been highest among providers outside hospitals.

These latest findings fit in with that trend.

Hospital-owned outpatient facilities were more likely to use telehealth than those not owned by hospitals. Outpatient facilities tended to use patient portals or apps more than inpatient respondents but also had broad adoption of hub and spoke models.

Still, providers in a variety of settings keeping a close watch on possibilities and wanting to stay at the forefront of the technology, said Kate Shamsuddin, SVP of strategy at Definitive.

The results “show how telehealth continues to be one of the core linchpins” for providers, she told Healthcare Dive.

The inpatient report found telehealth use jumped from 54% when the survey was first taken in 2014 to 85% in 2019. The most common model is hub and spoke (65%), followed by patient portals or apps (40%), concierge services (29%) and clinical- and consumer-grade remote patient monitoring.

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The tech most often used in that setting was two-way video between physician and patient. That is also the category respondents said they were most likely to invest in for the future.​ Shamsuddin said hospitals and health systems tend to have a broader mixture in the types of technologies they use due to their larger budgets and scale

Looking ahead, it will be important to examine more closely the return on investment providers are getting from telehealth platforms and their success in furthering population health and patient management goals, Shamsuddin said.

Evaluating different types of technology and their effectiveness is “part of what we’re trying to determine now that we have a relatively steady state of implementation across the inpatient and outpatient space,” she said.

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