News Briefs Archive

How Many U.S. Doctors Are Using Telehealth?

Dec. 19, 2018

Telehealth is a hot topic in optometry, and other health-care fields, but is it being used by a significant number of practitioners yet? Not really, it seems, according to reporting by Bruce Japsen in Forbes.

“Despite a favorable regulatory climate, just 15 percent of physicians are using telehealth in their practices, according to new research in the December issue of the journal Health Affairs,” Japsen writes.

The research, gleaned from a nationwide physician database by researchers at the American Medical Association, is the latest to show that use of telehealth, also known as telemedicine, isn’t yet a standard part of the U.S. healthcare system.

“In 2016, 15.4 percent of physicians worked in practices that used telemedicine for a wide spectrum of patient interactions , including e-visits as well as diagnoses made by radiologists who used telemedicine to store and forward data,” Carol Kane and Kurt Gillis of the American Medical Association’s division of economic and health policy research wrote in Health Affairs. “In the same year, 11.2 percent of physicians worked in practices that used telemedicine for interactions between physicians and health care professionals.”

The report in Health Affairs follows a report in JAMA last week by researchers from Harvard University that described access to physicians via telehealth as “uncommon” despite laws passed in more than 30 states requiring health insurance coverage and payments to virtual medical care providers.

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