Before the Covid-19 pandemic, many telehealth providers had already designed systems that could be integrated with leading EHR platforms to allow patient information to pass easily from one interface to another. According to IQVIA, in 2018, 2.4% of large group enrollees who had an outpatient office visit had at least one telehealth visit. However, during the pandemic, with social distancing and changes to provider payments, use of telehealth rose dramatically. Zoom’s integration with Epic Systems meant healthcare organizations could launch Zoom from within an Epic video visit workflow. During July 2021, Epic users exchanged 230 million records. But Epic is not available for private practice, so medical providers had to sign up for a service they could afford.
A 2018 American Medical Association survey found that the top three specialties engaging in telehealth were radiologists (39.5%), psychiatrists (27.8%), and cardiologists (24.1%). Specialists who used telehealth the least were allergists (6.1%), gastroenterologists (7.9%), and OB/GYNs (9.3%). Larger, non-physician-owned practices were more likely to use telehealth too.
Ita O’Sullivan, a psychiatric nurse practitioner who practices in New York, says telehealth is going through an evolution. “It changed overnight in mid-March 2020,” she says. “I focus on psychotherapy and psychopharmacology, and I always met my patients in person. No-one even considered meeting virtually until last year. Since then, we’ve all had to adapt.” O’Sullivan signed up for Zoom and started conducting patient sessions remotely, which she continues to do today.
Used together, telehealth and EHR systems can help physicians improve their clinical workflow. Doctors can schedule and conduct video visits directly from an EHR without installing additional software. After consulting with a patient remotely, they can create a summary of the telehealth visit. Without EHR and telehealth integration, clinicians would likely need to enter the same information twice. In addition to EHR systems, other HIPAA-compliant applications available for telehealth that are accessible on tablets, computers, or phones include practice-specific patient portals like Doxy.me, SimplePractice, and private services like Teladoc, Doctor on Demand, Amwell, MDLive, and UnityPoint.
The truth of the matter is that telehealth is here to stay and only continues to grow. PitchBook estimates that revenue from the global telehealth market will hit $312.3 billion in 2026, up from $65.5 billion in 2019.
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