By Ed Simcox, Practice Leader, Logicalis Healthcare Solutions

If you are planning to attend the HIMSS17 healthcare IT tradeshow, get ready to hear about telehealth.  Telehealth is inching closer to its tipping point, something I talked about in a Logicalis press release over a year ago.

If President Donald Trump’s nominee for Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS), Rep. Tom Price, is confirmed, the industry can expect even quicker telehealth adoption. In his January 18th confirmation hearing in front of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, Dr. Price, an orthopaedic surgeon and healthcare policy expert, declared that telehealth was “absolutely vital” saying, “I think we need to accentuate the ability to use telemedicine.” Dr. Price continued, “Oftentimes, telemedicine is not paid for, it’s not compensated. … Clinicians eat those costs [which makes it] much more difficult for them to be able to provide the quality care necessary.”

Telehealth experts have lamented the lack of reimbursement for virtual care for a long time. If Dr. Price is confirmed, I expect an emphasis from HHS, and more specifically, CMS, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, on policies meant to rapidly improve the adoption of telehealth through better reimbursement.

These policies will be well-received by young adults who have grown up immersed in consumer technology. They have had nearly constant, lifelong, on-demand access to information online, and possess elevated expectations that go along with such access. Telehealth concepts are not foreign to these “digital natives.”  In fact, over 70 percent said they would choose a primary care doctor that provides them a mobile app over one that does not.1

We’re witnessing the consumerization of healthcare and health IT right before our eyes – and it’s similar to what we have seen happening in other vertical markets like banking and retail. Think of it, for example, like the transition from banking in front of a bank teller to online banking or from shopping in a store to using Amazon – the change that’s coming in healthcare will be just as widespread and transformative.

The writing is already on the proverbial wall. The likely creation of telehealth-friendly policy from HHS, coupled with a strong, growing consumer demand for it coming from young adults, will drive the rapid growth of telehealth.

Hospitals and medical practices are well-advised to take strong steps now by planning comprehensive telehealth programs that are tightly integrated into the legacy processes and systems so as not to be left behind.

Want to learn more? Logicalis believes America’s young will drive telehealth adoption, but there are no shortcuts on the road to telehealth.  To find out more, download a Logicalis white paper, “How to Design and Implement a Successful Telehealth Program for Your Organization,” and investigate its nine-step roadmap.  You may also want to examine telehealth from multiple perspectives: the patient’s viewpoint, the clinician’s viewpoint, and the CIO’s viewpoint.  And take a look at a recent Logicalis press release  that examines the ways telehealth matches the ONC’s Triple Aim. Finally, explore Logicalis’ recent healthcare-related news as well as its healthcare website here: http://ow.ly/RjgA308ajF0.

1 Harris Salesforce poll, June 2016