Back to the Future! The first physicians in the world were generalists who provided all of the medical care available. They diagnosed and treated illnesses, performed surgery and delivered babies. About 75 years ago, all of this started to change. Specialization began to flourish, as did fragmentation of care. Rural physicians continue to be the “jack of all trades” and rural families have benefited from some of the best coordinated care in the U.S.
Around that same time period, another shift also occurred. In the early 1900s, much of health care took place in the patient’s home; then care began to move from the home to the clinic setting. Whereas once a physician visited a patient in their home, often multiple times for a single complaint, now the patient is typically placed in a ten minute block in a clinic setting. Neither physician or patient are particularly satisfied with this approach. Canadian Family Physician noted that most commonly cited reasons for practitioners’ being unable to do house calls were the lack of efficiency, the time required, and poor reimbursement. Enter telehealth and virtual care.
Findings from a 2014 survey of 1,557 U.S. family physicians by the Robert Graham Center for Policy Studies in Family Medicine and Primary Care “confirm that family physicians see promise in the ability of telehealth to improve access to primary care service” and “suggest that telehealth is on the cusp of advancing from a tool used occasionally to a tool implemented on a routine basis.” Barriers to telehealth adoption include lack of training, reimbursement, cost of equipment and concerns about liability. In this session, learn how you and your practice can overcome the most common barriers to using telehealth, and enable the “virtual” home visit to become a tool for increasing satisfaction and engagement for both you and your patient.
− Kathy Hsu Wibberly, PhD
Director, Mid-Atlantic Telehealth Resource Center University of Virginia Center for Telehealth
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