Health IT

The biggest barrier to telemedicine adoption isn’t reimbursement

It’s often taken as gospel in the telemedicine industry that the greatest roadblock to adoption is reimbursement. In other words, once doctors know that they’ll be compensated by public and private payers for video conferencing with patients, they’ll start doing it more, the thinking goes. There’s little reason to dispute that assertion, but American Well […]

It’s often taken as gospel in the telemedicine industry that the greatest roadblock to adoption is reimbursement.

In other words, once doctors know that they’ll be compensated by public and private payers for video conferencing with patients, they’ll start doing it more, the thinking goes.

There’s little reason to dispute that assertion, but American Well CEO Roy Schoenberg said reimbursement isn’t the biggest thing that’s holding back telemedicine in the U.S. (American Well provides a Web-based platform that connects health providers with patients.)

Rather, it’s ignorance of what telemedicine is and the benefits it can provide, Schoenberg said.

“We’re still at that state where government isn’t informed of what the potential is and how to drive this thing forward,” Schoenberg said during a panel at the American Telemedicine Association‘s annual conference.

For example, Schoenberg pointed to a bill recently introduced by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, a California Democrat, that would crack down on illegal online pharmacies. The problem, though, is that the language in the bill went too far and would’ve “eliminated telehealth,” according to Schoenberg.

Contrast that with Australia’s government, said Schoenberg. Australia’s Medicare program is offering 50 percent bonuses to specialists who adopt telehealth technology and 35 percent bonuses to doctors, nurses and midwives who participate in video consults with patients, Healthcare IT News reported last year.

In the video below, Schoenberg talks about why a lack of knowledge of telehealth is a greater problem for adoption than reimbursement.

[Photo from flickr user BinaryApe]