Telemedicine has been around for a number of years, but it’s not yet an everyday channel for patients to receive care. A panel of providers and vendors sat down at the Partners HealthCare Connected Health Symposium to discuss the question of what it would take to get telemedicine into the mainstream.
The panel, moderated by Harvard heart surgeon Lawrence Cohn, included American Well CEO Dr. Roy Schoenberg, Mercy Health CFO Shannon Sock, Wellpoint Chief Strategy Officer Dr. Martin Silverstein, and Dr. Neil Evans, Co-Director of Connected Health at the Department of Veterans Affairs.
“Like any new product category, you need to have awareness, you need to have a value proposition, and make sure the average patient has access to this as a benefit,” Silverstein said. “But a lot of employees have access to this as a benefit, some with no copay at all, and they’re still not using it. I think it has to do with awareness. They have to understand the value proposition and they have to develop a confidence that this is good medicine. And I’m not sure there’s enough consensus on what good practices are. It needs to become more mainstream and it needs to become a more visible part of the healthcare ecosystem and [then] they’ll have the confidence.”
The panel did agree that regulatory barriers like state licensing laws and lack of reimbursement were holding telemedicine back. But most agreed that those factors were not insurmountable.
“I would say the parallel to this is the [retail] clinic,” Silverstein added. “[Retail] clinic adoption in many markets took quite a while. But when there was a awareness through advertising, covered benefits through insurance, and word of mouth, people started to get comfortable.”