As major health IT vendors such as Epic and Cerner prepare their product offerings for the new Accountable care Organization ("ACO") reimbursement structures, they are missing a substantial tool by not including telehealth solutions. These ACO solutions are actually their core EHR products slightly re-designed to accommodate the sharing of information across multiple providers working within an ACO group practice.
ACO reimbursements will be based on the overall health outcomes experienced by a patient across the many possible specialties and primary care treatment protocols that comprise that specific patient's healthcare requirements. Providers will be rewarded for having healthier patients; additionally, CMS will look for reduced testing and drug-drug interactions through shared results and protocols. ACO reimbursements also include a significantly higher reward for implementing and meeting electronic medical record meaningful use criteria.
Telehealth has shown in many studies to offer comparable outcomes (of course based on type of condition, severity, state of the patient's overall health, etc) for a lower cost; validated by the deployment of large hospital systems and even deep investigation by CMS. InteractiveMD is working hard to shape solutions that can work along side EHR platforms and integrate into existing provider work flows. It's online doctors provide access to tens of thousands of patients nationwide. I'm excited for the future of telehealth as a viable complement to our national healthcare system.