Report: Post-acute sector is lagging on telemed adoption

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Dan D’Orazio: Reimbursement should improve in post-acute care.
Dan D’Orazio: Reimbursement should improve in post-acute care.

Telemedicine's value across the care continuum is clear, but adoption still lags, according to a report released in February by Sage Growth Partners, a healthcare research firm.

The report, which details findings from SGP's survey of nearly 100 healthcare executives, as well as additional quantitative and qualitative research, found that more than half of healthcare executive respondents reported that they have already implemented telemedicine in their organization. In addition, among the 44% who have not yet adopted telemedicine, 86% say it is a medium to high priority, and 24% are actively seeking telemedicine solutions.

The report also touches on the hurdles to telemedicine's adoption, particularly among post-acute care facilities, including modest budgets and an uncertain reimbursement and regulatory landscape.

“Telemedicine can help post-acute facilities succeed clinically and financially as long as the reimbursement is there, but if the capital expense falls squarely on the shoulders of the provider, telehealth will fall short of its promise in the post-acute arena,” said Sage Growth Partners CEO Dan D'Orazio.

D'Orazio also told McKnight's that he and many healthcare executives are hopeful that reimbursement issues will improve with the growing recognition of the importance of post-acute care. In fact, 62% of those surveyed believe using telemedicine in post-acute care will generate a return-on-investment for their organization within three years, according to the report.

Tim Wright, vice president of strategy at InTouch Health, a telemedicine services provider, pointed to the widespread implementation of readmission penalties as additional proof that telemedicine is essential in long-term care.

“With 42 percent of hospital Medicare patients now being discharged to a post-acute care setting, health systems are increasingly concerned about SNF- and LTACH- based care,” he said.