Telehealth usage was growing among internists prior to COVID-19
(HealthDay)—There is wide variation in the use of telehealth among internal medicine physicians and subspecialists, according the "2020 American College of Physicians (ACP) Member Survey About Telehealth Implementation."
The ACP conducted an online survey (December 2019 to January 2020) with responses from 231 ACP members (11.7 percent response rate) representing general internal medicine (49 percent), hospital medicine (24 percent), and subspecialists (26 percent). Questions focused on two aspects of telehealth implementation: having the technology available and frequency of use of the technology.
According to the results of the survey, electronic consults and asynchronous evaluation (of data submitted through a patient portal or other secure system) are the most widely used services, with one out of four ACP members using each method at least weekly. One in seven respondents (14 percent) report using video visits at least weekly. Use of video visits, remote monitoring, and remote management have all grown significantly during the past year. There is variance in telehealth use by specialty, with hospitalists using video visits and e-consults at more than twice the rate as subspecialists, while general internists and subspecialists are more likely to use asynchronous evaluation of data/images. When technologically available, remote monitoring and remote care management are both used significantly more often in rural practices.
"Telehealth delivered remotely is essential to patient care during this public health crisis," Robert M. McLean, M.D., president of the ACP, said in a statement. "It's concerning that many patients don't have access to video visits, and must rely on phone call visits as a lifeline to their physician, so we are pleased that the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services announced they will begin paying physicians for patient visits that take place by audio telephone only."
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