A recent survey of more than 1,000 leaders in healthcare, conducted by Definitive Healthcare, reported that telehealth was the #3 voted top trend in healthcare for 2019 (#1: consolidation; #2: consumerism).
There is a tsunami coming – a “Silver Tsunami” – with more than 75 million Baby Boomers becoming eligible for Medicare coverage (Milliard, 2019). Given that the federal healthcare system is already stretched thin, it is thought that telehealth and remote patient monitoring capabilities will become increasingly important to ensuring healthcare access (Milliard, 2019).
In many scenarios, online therapy is just as effective as talking to a therapist in person. For instance, research has shown that online cognitive behavioral therapy for eating disorders is just as effective as the same modality delivered in person.i Veterans being treated for PTSD had the same levels of improvement from both online and in-person therapy.ii Face-to-face treatment for depression is just as effective as online therapy and the continued benefits may even be better for those receiving treatment online.iii
A recent study published in Health Affairs found that telehealth use in the treatment of substance use disorders (SUDs) is far outpaced by telehealth addressing other mental health concerns. Although telehealth treatment for both SUDs and mental health disorders has grown rapidly from 2010 and 2017, the use rates of telehealth to treat SUDs remain relatively low, when compared to mental health.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) recently released their report to Congress, Information on Medicare Telehealth, and the future is bright for telehealth. CMS continues to expand waivers that increase access to telehealth services among certain provider groups, including an expansion of what qualifies as an “originating site” for billing purposes and allowing billing for certain healthcare services (e.g., teledermatology) when using asynchronous store and forward telehealth technology (CMS, 2018).