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In a recent study by Epic Research, researchers analyzed electronic health record (EHR) data from 37 health systems to make a case for expanded reimbursement of telehealth on clinical outcomes and patient satisfaction. This in-depth analysis sheds light on the potential of telehealth as a vital healthcare delivery method and the challenges surrounding its widespread adoption.

A study of 35 million telehealth visits by Epic Research found that most patients did not require in-person visits within 90 days of online appointments, thereby highlighting the efficacy of remote healthcare delivery. The finding suggest a necessity for more telehealth reimbursement and expanded coverage. Virtual visits were found to be particularly beneficial for managing chronic conditions, conducting follow-up appointments, and providing mental health services. Telehealth has also proven to be a valuable tool during the COVID-19 pandemic, helping healthcare providers deliver care while reducing the risk of virus transmission.

Key Points

  • Telehealth visits lead to fewer in-person follow-ups within 90 days, demonstrating their efficacy
  • Epic research suggests the need for more telehealth reimbursement and expanded coverage
  • Telehealth serves as an alternative rather than duplicative healthcare delivery method

One of the key findings in the study was the role of telehealth in managing chronic conditions. Patients with diabetes, hypertension, and other chronic illnesses often require regular monitoring and follow-up appointments. Telehealth allows these patients to receive the care they need without the inconvenience and expense of traveling to a healthcare facility. This not only improves access to care but also enables healthcare providers to more closely monitor their patients’ conditions, leading to better health outcomes.

In addition to chronic disease management, telehealth has been highly effective in providing mental health services. The convenience, privacy, and accessibility of virtual visits make it easier for patients to access the mental health support they need. For patients in rural areas or those with limited mobility, telehealth has been a game-changer in removing barriers to mental healthcare.

The research also found that patient satisfaction levels were high for telehealth visits. Patients appreciated the convenience, reduced wait times, and the ability to receive care from the comfort of their own homes. High patient satisfaction levels can contribute to better patient adherence to treatment plans, which ultimately leads to improved health outcomes.

Despite the demonstrated effectiveness of telehealth, reimbursement remains a significant barrier to its widespread adoption. The article highlights the need for policymakers and payers to reevaluate reimbursement policies to support the continued growth of telehealth services.

Telehealth reimbursement has been a contentious issue for several years, with many private and public payers offering limited or no reimbursement for virtual visits. The COVID-19 pandemic has prompted some temporary changes in reimbursement policies, but there is still a need for long-term solutions to ensure the sustainability of telehealth services.

As the study suggests, one of the primary challenges for telehealth reimbursement is the lack of standardization in payment policies. Payers often have varying requirements and reimbursement rates for telehealth services, creating confusion and inconsistency for healthcare providers. To address this issue, the industry needs to develop standardized reimbursement guidelines that reflect the value and effectiveness of telehealth services.

Another challenge in telehealth reimbursement is the need for evidence-based policies. Payers and policymakers should consider the growing body of research demonstrating the clinical effectiveness and cost savings associated with telehealth when developing reimbursement policies. By recognizing the value of telehealth in improving patient care and reducing healthcare costs, payers can create reimbursement policies that incentivize its adoption.

The Epic study highlights the potential benefits of telehealth in terms of clinical outcomes, patient satisfaction, and cost savings. However, it also underscores the importance of addressing reimbursement challenges to ensure that telehealth services can continue to grow and reach their full potential.

As healthcare systems continue to embrace digital health solutions, it is crucial for the industry to address reimbursement challenges to ensure telehealth can reach its full potential in enhancing patient care and improving healthcare accessibility. Policymakers, payers, and healthcare providers must collaborate to develop standardized, evidence-based reimbursement policies that reflect the value and effectiveness of telehealth services.


Study: Telehealth Visits Unlikely to Require In-Person Follow-Up Within 90 Days (Epic Research)