At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, payers, providers and patients all embraced telehealth seemingly overnight, regardless of their stance on its use before the pandemic.

Since then, however, the spike in the use of telemedicine services has generally subsided, and providers have been left with many unanswered questions about the long-term economic viability of telemedicine services.

From the patient’s perspective, the continued availability of telemedicine services used appropriately and in place of an in-person visit is a clear win: Patients can receive care in the comfort of their home while avoiding travel-related costs and spending less time away from family, work or other obligations.

But for providers, the picture is less clear from a payment perspective. Some argue that telemedicine can be efficiently delivered at a cost lower than the cost for in-person services. They suggest less physical space and staff support are required for telehealth services, therefore warranting lesser payment rates.

Others suggest the incremental resources and associated costs including electronic platforms, work-from-home costs and efforts required to help patients cross into the digital world have increased the cost structure and negated any potential savings.

Apr 26, 2021 By Neil Ravitz, MBA, Sean Looby, MHA, Calvin Jordan, MBA, and Andrew Kanoff, MHA

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