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SingleCare Industry News Round-up 6/17: Telehealth, Broken Healthcare, Expensive Treatments

Cropped SingleCare logo By | June 17, 2016

This week in healthcare news, read about telehealth, fixing a broken healthcare system, and how some Americans skip medical treatment because they just can’t afford it.

First, an article that draws attention to the efforts of healthcare organizations, individuals, and states to get telehealth initiatives moving, while medicare takes a more cautionary approach to adopting telehealth practices.

  • Samsung Business Insights | Government Telemedicine Decision Makers Urged to Look Outside Medicare for Telehealth Benefits

    Individual states have taken initiatives to get telehealth moving. According to Modern Healthcare, in 2014, the Federation of State Medical Boards expanded support for some technologies used in telehealth encounters. As things stand today, a full 29 states as well as the District of Columbia have enacted private telehealth coverage laws. That number is expected to increase, reaching 32 states by 2017. Medicare, on the other hand, has only inched along, proposing a minor expansion of payment rules that would include telehealth as well as behavioral health visits. Actual payments around telehealth, though, have been minuscule, with Medicare paying out only $17.6 million in telehealth reimbursements last year out of the total $546 billion in Medicare expenditures, which is just over .003 percent. […] While telehealth still stands as an emerging delivery method today, generalized increases in the costs of care delivery and growing popularity in the commercial sector will likely force government bodies to take a more serious and expedient look at their use.

Next, read a piece that offers four ways to fix the current healthcare system. The author, Athenahealth CEO, suggests removing legal barriers that could stifle healthtech advancements, building a more connected healthcare continuum, flipping the providers’ mindset from offering “sick care” to well care, and restoring the humanity aspect of doctor-patient interactions.

  • Forbes | Four Ways To Heal Our Broken Healthcare System

    How did we get to this state? The familiar mechanisms that exist for lowering cost, improving quality and increasing customer satisfaction don’t exist in healthcare—things like price transparency, competition between new entrants and incumbents and an appetite for rapid innovation. There are many innovators trying to break through, but not nearly enough. A system that feeds on a lack of connectedness and transparency boxes out disruption.” […] “To restore humanity to healthcare we must free doctors from the administrative and IT burdens that consume their days and sap their energy.”

Portrait Of A Worried Couple Calculating Financial Budget

[Image credit: Ridofranz / Thinkstock]

Last, understand why many people are choosing to forgo filling prescriptions or are rationing their medications due to cost barriers. This situation is especially pertinent for the uninsured.  

More than a quarter of U.S. adults questioned earlier this year say they have skipped a medical test, treatment or follow-up care, or avoided a visit to the doctor for a medical problem during the previous 12 months due to cost.” […] “For some patients, particularly those who remain uninsured or who are in health plans with high deductibles or copayments, costs of medical care can still be a burden,” Baker said. “Some people do, unfortunately, find themselves in the position of foregoing medical care because of costs.”

Thanks and tune in next week!

[Main image credit: gpointstudio/Thinkstock]