Telemedicine is gaining acceptance because of a variety of factors, including a looming physician shortage, the larger health care reform debate and health plans' increasing willingness to reimburse for the practice, the Baltimore Sun reports.
Policy experts say that telemedicine can boost efficiency at a time when physicians and health professionals are in limited supply. The use of available and inexpensive telehealth technology also can help improve patients' access to health care, the Sun reports.
Recently, UnitedHealthcare unveiled a national push designed to persuade its network of health care professionals to use telemedicine to treat patients.
Despite the benefits of telemedicine, some adoption barriers remain. For example, licensing restrictions might prohibit doctors from treating and prescribing medication for patients they examine electronically across state lines.
In addition, only a few states require health plans to reimburse for telemedicine consultations (Sentementes, Baltimore Sun, 9/14).