Jeff Rowe, Editor, Future Care

Jeff Rowe is the editor of Future Care and a veteran healthcare journalist and blogger who has reported extensively on initiatives to improve the healthcare system at the local, regional and national level.

Telehealth apps target lower costs for independent providers

April 12, 2017 AT 7:33 PM

For small practices, the cost of implementing telehealth programs can be prohibitive, but new apps from services such as HealthTap and American Well could help more providers offer virtual visits.

According to an article in Medical Economics, these and other services are providing apps that enable physicians to, among other things, extend their office hours virtually.  Peter Antall, MD, chief medical officer of American Well, says early adopter physicians are performing a variety of tasks using telemedicine, including, in rural areas, specialists such as orthopedists who are using telemedicine to cover geographically multiple emergency departments (EDs). 

As the article explains, “private practice physicians can join the network of one of the commercial telemedicine services if they wish to earn extra money by doing virtual visits. All they have to do is apply on a service’s website, complete a credentialing application and take some brief telehealth training before being connected with the telemedicine platform to start seeing patients virtually.”

Once they’re official participants, physicians can net $25 or more per virtual visit, which can be performed in their spare time. Docs that are licensed across state lines can offer visits wherever they’re licensed, too.

But not all observers are convinced that telemedicine is always more efficient. For example, Joseph Kvedar, MD, vice president of connected health at Partners HealthCare in Boston, noted that regardless of whether a patient is physically present in the exam room or connected via a video feed, the amount of time it takes to provide care is the same.