Telemedicine allows healthcare providers to interact with patients using technology.
These online consultations and electronic communications between physicians and patients allow more people to access healthcare remotely. The popularity of telemedicine and technological advances are bringing remote care to more people. Increasingly, providers are expanding their practices to include various aspects of telemedicine and this trend is likely to grow among chiropractors.
By understanding how this new trend impacts your practice, you can make an educated decision about telehealth. You may decide to embrace the new movement or interact with it in other ways.
Growth of telemedicine
Research on consumer and physician options on telehealth suggest that a majority of both patients and doctors are interested in remote care. According to own survey, 70 percent of employers are planning to include telehealth as a benefit for their employees. Of primary care physicians, 57 percent claim they would consider delivering care through video appointments. Many healthcare organizations are planning new telehealth programs.¹
These appointments may help people who live in rural areas, have difficulty traveling to see a doctor or simply have tight schedules. Healthcare organizations and doctors that are trying to reach more patients can offer video, phone, and internet consultations. Remote monitoring of patient activity, vitals, or other metrics can help doctors track patient progress.
Progress is being made in the use of robotic technologies, so the possibilities of robot-assisted surgery are also on the horizon. Telemedicine is customized to patient needs and can reach patients wherever they are. In healthcare systems where more care is needed to reach more patients than ever before, telehealth presents important possibilities.¹
As of 2015, 29 states and the District of Columbia all require health plans to cover telemedicine. In time, more states may embrace it. This trend is growing in popularity, but is still new enough that not every patient in the United States is covered by a plan with telehealth benefits.¹
While many medical services can be offered remotely, chiropractic care often requires in-person appointments for adjustments and lab tests. Chiropractic clinics and patients may benefit from appointments that advise and guide patients. At least occasionally, chiropractic patients will likely have to show up at clinics or have their doctors visit them.
For chiropractic, this means telehealth appointments are likely to be mostly consultative in nature. Perhaps this means patients could receive more frequent advice from their physicians in-between visits to the clinic. Patients with more serious conditions may benefit from frequent monitoring and healthcare encounters. ²
Because the laws governing telehealth are different depending on your state, you should consider researching how these apply to your clinic. There may be restrictions on the types of services you can offer and how you deliver care, so it is worthwhile to investigate. The relationship you have to your patients is also regulated by law. Providing care to patients in New York State, for example, may be illegal if you are not licensed in New York, even if you have a valid license to practice elsewhere. If you begin offering telehealth services, find out where and how you are permitted to practice and how telehealth laws apply to your clinic.³
Chiropractic telemedicine in the future
Doctors are caring for patients in new ways and using new technologies to deliver care. These trends may impact how chiropractic care is delivered in the future as chiropractors begin offering remote services to their patients. In time, this trend may allow chiropractors to reach more people and expand their services to traditionally underserved populations, rural areas, and patients with serious illnesses. ²
If you are ready to embrace telehealth for your own clinic, begin by doing your own research. As needed, you may want to seek legal advice and explore how the current laws regulate your practice. Telehealth offers significant potential for chiropractors who know how to offer remote services and understand how laws apply to their clinics.³
- Wood, Megan. “Telemedicine to attract 7m patient users by 2018—12 statistics on the thriving market.” Becker’s Health IT and CIO Review. http://www.beckershospitalreview.com/healthcare-information-technology/telemedicine-to-attract-7m-patient-users-by-2018-12-statistics-on-the-thriving-market.html. Published: October 2016. Accessed: April 2017.
- “Telemedicine in Chiropractic Care.” The Joint Glendale Clinic. http://chiropractorglendaleca-thejoint.com/blog/telemedicine-in-chiropractic-care/. Accessed: April 2017.
- “Telemedicine laws vary by state.” CAMLAW Blog. http://www.camlawblog.com/articles/licensure-and-credentialing/telemedicine-laws-vary-by-state/. Accessed: April 2017.