The majority of providers with telehealth programs plan to increase their use of the technology despite concerns about reimbursement and other obstacles, according to a survey from the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives and KLAS Research.

Patient convenience was cited as among the top benefits of telehealth in the survey of 104 healthcare organizations, with three-quarters of respondents indicating that they intend to either expand patient access to providers using such systems or expand the number of specialties served.

Providers used their telehealth platforms to enable patients to schedule and conduct a clinical visit virtually, meet urgent and nonemergency medical needs of patients on-demand, as well as increase patient access to specialists.

Russell Branzell
Russell Branzell

However, top concerns raised by survey respondents included available technology, cost, integration, patient experience, reimbursement and value. Approximately half of respondents specifically cited reimbursement as a hurdle, mentioning that some payers have been slow to reimburse for telehealth services or reimburse at rates lower than face-to-face visits.

“Telehealth offers a great opportunity to enhance the lives of patients by making healthcare accessible to them wherever they may be,” said Russell Branzell, CHIME’s president and CEO. “Our members are advocates for improving patients’ lives through innovations like telehealth. But it needs to be carefully implemented to meet its potential and we still face headwinds with reimbursement and integration issues.”

When it comes to integration between their electronic health records and virtual care platform vendor, most healthcare organizations said it was nonexistent or unidirectional.

Also See: Why interoperability between EHRs and telehealth platforms will be crucial

“Telehealth holds enormous promise,” said Adam Gale, president of KLAS. “However, the underlying technology needs to evolve faster. In particular, integration of telehealth with provider EHRs is still at a primitive level. Vendors need to step up in terms of technology and improved support.”