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Kristen McGovern Discusses the Reluctance to Reimburse Telemedicine

Part of the reluctance to reimburse for telemedicine is that policy makers arenít aware of the wide range of evidence that currently exists and supports increasing reimbursement for telemedicine, said Kristen McGovern, JD, partner at Sirona Strategies.


 
Part of the reluctance to reimburse for telemedicine is that policy makers aren’t aware of the wide range of evidence that currently exists and supports increasing reimbursement for telemedicine, said Kristen McGovern, JD, partner at Sirona Strategies.

Transcript (slightly modified)

What has been the reluctance to increase reimbursement for telemedicine?

Telemedicine, I think, in the minds of policy makers has really traditionally been a rural issue. When it made its way into the Medicare reimbursement regulations, it was really to increase access to care in rural areas. Over the past few years, obviously technology has far advanced and now all Americans, a lot of people carry around smartphones or have computers, and they have the ability to access care in different ways. And so it’s no longer a rural issue. It’s really an issue for everyone.

I think the reluctance around reimbursement has been primarily around, you know in the Medicare space there’s a lot of questions about whether seniors, how technology proficient they are and whether they would be able to actually use the technology. There’s also questions about utilization and whether we’re going to blow the budget by giving patients this easy, convenient access to care. And then there’s also questions about research. Policy makers like to have a wide body of evidence before they make any decisions and we do believe that we have a significant body of research. So, it’s just educating people about the telemedicine work that’s already been done and that there is a body of evidence out there that can support increased reimbursement.  

Do you believe the idea that senior citizens do not understand how to use telemedicine is an outdated concern?

We are seeing that seniors are much more tech-savvy and if they aren’t, then a lot of times they have a caregiver who is. Generally, the caregiver is a child or someone in their family who’s a little bit younger who may be more experienced with technology and if they don’t know how to use it, can help them use it. 

 
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