But what does that mean for the long-term outlook for telehealth services?
We asked that question in a recent survey. The survey report, titled Innovation & Flexibility: The Journey to Sustainable Healthcare, takes a look at the utilization of telehealth services in the light of a locum tenens staffing model.
As things stand, when most hospital administrators think about locum tenens staffing, they think about onsite physician care. It is the origin of locums staffing and still the primary utilization of outsourced staffing. It is clearly seen in the data, which shows hospitals utilize onsite locums staffing more than three times as much as telehealth.
That is starting to change. Facilities that were previously reliant on onsite staffing have begun to embrace telehealth services. In some cases, hospitals are taking a flexible approach to staffing that integrates telehealth and onsite care, providing the best of both worlds.
The majority of respondents say they plan to expand telehealth coverage in the coming year, which represents a major step in increasing access to care for patients and communities.
Even with that, there remains a lag in adoption for certain specialties. Currently, psychiatric services dominated locum tenens telehealth services. For LocumTenens.com, behavioral health accounts for 79% of telehealth services, but that utilization is beginning to shift as hospitals look to other specialties.
By expanding telehealth offerings, hospitals can expand access to care and reach new locations. Over the past year, many facilities have been able to deliver a higher level of care to satellite or remote locations through telehealth.
There are still barriers to increase the adoption of telehealth to other service lines and locations. Reimbursements are often seen as a challenge. That will change as payors and the industry as a whole come to see the benefits of telehealth services.
For more insights on telehealth and other key topics, download the full report to get a look at where we are and where we are going on the journey to sustainability in healthcare.