The American College of Physicians surveyed its members about telemedicine last October 2018 and again in January 2019. They asked a random sample of 1,449 members younger than 65, a range of questions surrounding five categories of remote healthcare:

  • E-consult
  • Store-and-forward virtual communications
  • Live video visits
  • Remote monitoring
  • Wearable data collection

As reported in MedPage Today, of the 233 members who responded 51 percent said they used at least one of the five categories of telehealth. The most commonly used technologies were e-consult or store-and-forward with 33 percent having tried them and of those who had, 63 percent reported using them every week. Another 24 percent had used remote care management and 18 percent used video visits.

The results presented at the ACP’s annual meeting in April show that while adoption of telehealth is on the way, barriers to implementation remain and include technology, workflow, patient access to technology, medical errors, reimbursement, credentialing across states and hospitals, and security.

Despite those limitations, urologists are one of the specialties leading the way, spurred by an overall shortage of urologists. According to a joint report of the Urology Times and the American Association of Clinical Urologists published in the Urology Times, urology has seen a greater than 10 percent decline in the number of specialists per capita over the past 20 years. Adding to the urgency, the organization says 44 percent of urologists are 55 or older. As a consequence, implementing telemedicine in urology in some areas may be less a choice than a necessity as patients seek urologists across greater distances.

Before implementing teleurology, the American Telemedicine Association in an article in Urology Times recommends four steps urologists need to take before committing to a telehealth offering:

  • Fully understand the laws and regulations for telemedicine in your state,
  • Make sure you have access to telemedicine infrastructure with HIPAA-compliant technology,
  • Understand billing and reimbursement for telemedicine, and
  • Test the system with a sample of selected patients.

Beyond those basic considerations you’ll need to do a careful analysis of your patient-base to identify which patients are the best candidates for the remote healthcare. That might be based on whether patients are in a monitoring or treatment mode and identifying those that can be safely done remotely.

Also, know what services you want to offer. Do you only want to do e-visits with video conferencing? Do you want to provide medication management, chronic care management, counseling or follow-up care and lab result reviews? Or do you want to provide clinical exam services through remote hospitals that do not have staff urologists.

In addition, geography might be an important factor. As an example, a urologist in Austin, Texas, had a rapidly growing practice and found that he was drawing patients from as far away as San Antonio and San Marcos areas, which average two- to four-hour travel times. As a result, he specifically looked at which of those patients might be better served with telehealth.

When you have identified your telemedicine patient-base and the services you want to provide, choose a platform that integrates seamlessly with your EHR, provides HIPAA and cybersecurity, works with your scheduling and billing system, and is easy for both you and your patients to use.

PercuVision LLC’s mission is to improve patient care and safety by applying microfiber-optic bundle technology to commonly invasive medical procedures. The DirectVision Telehealth Hub connects patients with specialists by supporting a wide range of professional examinations through an all-in-one built-in HIPAA compliant telemedicine platform solution. Contact us via phone at (614) 891-4800 or use our online contact form.

Sources: MedPage Today, “Barriers to Telehealth Adoption Remain, Survey Finds”; Urology Times, “Telemedicine policies advance with technology”; Urology Times, “Getting started with telemedicine: A 4-step approach”