Telehealth Study: Inpatient Adoption Surges Forward, Outpatient Not So Much

Seth Augenstein
AUGUST 14, 2019


More patients and doctors are linking up virtually in the inpatient setting than ever before – and at an accelerating pace, according to two new surveys of C-suite and executive voices.

The outpatient setting, however, is not moving as fast, according to the findings compiled by Definitive Healthcare, a Massachusetts-based data and intelligence firm.

Some 85% of those polled reported adoption of inpatient telehealth use, including two-way video or webcam, as well as text messages for population management, and remote patient monitoring through clinical-grade devices, according to the Definitive reports.

That number is a sharp spike upward from the first such survey, in 2014, which placed the number at just 54%, they added.

“Whether urban or rural hospital, academic medical center or critical access facility, organizations are finding new and creative ways trough telehealth to fill gaps in patient care, increase care access and provide additional services to patient populations outside the walls of their hospital,” said Kate Shamsuddin, the senior vice president of strategy at Definitive.

The results were compiled from 175 respondents who were classified as C-suite, directors or vice president of IT, or who were departments directors or in some other named capacity of leadership, according to the findings.

The most common usages of telehealth reported were: two-way video or webcam from physician to patient using desktop or a mobile device (70%) image sharing technology (54.7%); two-way video from physician to physician (48.7%); email (36.7%); and video conferencing (30%). Also reported were mobile applications to concierge services for virtual visits and consultations, remote patient monitoring with clinical-grade devices, medication management technology, and remote patient monitoring through consumer devices.

The vendors are split relatively evenly (8%) between InTouch Health, Polycom, Cisco Systems, Nighthawk Radiology Services, and VRad, according to the findings.

The highest reported inpatient adoption rates are found in Minnesota, South Dakota and Utah. The lowest rates were found in the Northeast, Southeast, and Southwest regions.

What’s more, telehealth planning continues to grow. Some 90% of future investment plans are targeted for the next 12 to 18 months, according to those executives surveyed.

The outpatient adoption remains “relatively flat,” at a rate of approximately 44% from 2018 to 2019, according to Definitive. (The hospital-owned practices have a higher adoption rate, at 55%, as compared with the non-hospital-owned practices, at 37%).

The trend bodes well for filling in health gaps, Definitive concluded.

“With healthcare moving from fee-for-service to value-based care and with the increased focus on population health, patient engagement and more personalized care delivery, telehealth solutions and services can help bridge numerous gaps that exist in the current healthcare landscape,” said Jason Krantz, the Definitive CEO.

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