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Dr Anne Schmidt Says Telemedicine Utilization Lower Than Expected

Video

Contrary to concerns that telemedicine could be overused, some programs are seeing lower involvement than expected, according to Anne Schmidt, MD, associate medical director at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama.

Contrary to concerns that telemedicine could be overused, some programs are seeing lower involvement than expected, according to Anne Schmidt, MD, associate medical director at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama.

Transcript (slightly modified)

Overutilization is one of the concerns with telemedicine. What are some of the challenges with controlling utilization of telemedicine?

For utilization of telemedicine, I think what we’re seeing is there’s actually less utilization than we’d expected. We have a teledoc program which we consider telehealth, versus a true telemedicine program, which we would define as a synchronous one-on-one interaction with a physician, a scheduled interaction, so say a consultation with a dermatologist or an infectious disease consultant. So we try to keep that distinct from telehealth, which I think is what we’re talking about with diabetes.

The utilization hasn’t been as high as we’d even expected with the specialty telemedicine programs, and we’re really trying to promote that. As far as overutilization, I think we might be looking at the wrong side. I think we need to engage more folks in their own healthcare and get them involved, and so I really don’t think we’ve seen overutilization of any programs that have so far been implemented.

As far as with reimbursement, again, we’ll have to look at data to see what the outcomes are for the general wellness programs, but I think the more involved that we can get patients in their own healthcare, and if telehealth is the way to do that, then I think everybody would benefit.

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