Roughly half of internal medicine physicians report working in a practice that has telehealth technology, according to the results of a survey released by the American College of Physicians (ACP) at its annual Internal Medicine Meeting, held from April 11 to 13 in Philadelphia.
Between October 2018 and January 2019, ACP conducted a survey of a random sampling of 1,449 members (≤65 years). In total, 233 members who provide outpatient care completed responses (72 percent general internal medicine specialists and 28 percent subspecialists). Adoption and usage of five different telehealth services were evaluated (video visits, e-consults, remote patient monitoring, remote care management/coaching, and integration of data from patient wearables).
The researchers found that adoption and usage of telehealth varies widely depending on the category of telehealth technology. Just over half (51 percent) of all respondents work in a practice that implemented at least one of the five technologies. Technology for e-consults was implemented most widely (33 percent), while remote care management (24 percent) and video visit (18 percent) technology were less widely available. But access to the technology did not necessarily equate with adoption. Sixty-three percent with access to e-consults used the technology every week; 19 percent utilized technology for video visits every week. Physicians reported some concerns about the use of telehealth and reported that they seek guidance and education to help them safely and effectively integrate telehealth into their practices.
“ACP recognizes that telehealth technologies have the potential to improve access for patients, enhance patient-physician collaboration, improve health outcomes, increase patient satisfaction, and reduce medical costs,” Ana Maria Lopez, M.D., president of the ACP, said in a statement. “Our survey gave us valuable information about the state of telehealth adoption among internists, what we can do to improve it, and how we can lead internal medicine physicians in the appropriate use of telehealth.”