From Healthcare Informatics:
Leaders at healthcare organizations across the country are finding innovative ways to use video conferencing devices to meet the specialty care needs of rural patients. A look at the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) Office for Advancement of Telehealth (OAT) grantees shows that these organizations are making clear headway in linking their physicians and patients remotely, but work still needs to be done to digitally collect and document the remote consult within the electronic health record (EHR).
OAT administered grants to 36 telemedicine projects, totaling more than $10.3 million, from 2009 through 2011. Projects like these are contributing to a growing telehospital market, which was worth $8.1 billion in 2011 and is expected to grow to $17.6 billion in 2016, according to BCC Research (Wellesley, Mass.).
However, meaningful use did not specifically address telehealth; so even with this market’s growth, Gary Capistrant, senior director of public policy at the American Telemedicine Association, believes there will be many frontiers before integration can occur between telemedicine hardware and EHRs. “Ultimately, that’s an issue for the EHR vendors to deal with, not the hospitals,” Capistrant says. “[Hospitals] may want to be able to do it, but if [vendors] don’t provide functionality, it doesn’t happen. And what the [vendors] do is driven a lot by meaningful use, and telehealth doesn’t seem to be a priority by the ONC.”
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