PHOENIX, Ariz. — Administrative burdens and limits on reimbursement are among the obstacles keeping hospitals from choosing to implement potentially lifesaving telemedicine programs, according to a study published in the January/February issue of Telemedicine and e-Health. The study by researchers from Mayo Clinic in Arizona, C3O Medical Group in Ojai, Calif., and UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles, surveyed emergency and critical care telemedicine users to determine factors that motivate and barriers that impede development of a robotic telemedicine program.
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Telemedicine provides timely medical expertise to patients who have medical emergencies but do not have ready access to specialized medical centers. For instance, in Arizona, Mayo Clinic operates a telestroke program featuring a robot that allows a stroke patient in a rural emergency department the opportunity to be seen in real time by a specialized stroke neurologist at Mayo Clinic in Phoenix.
The study results are not surprising, says Bart Demaerschalk, M.D., a neurologist and professor of neurology, director of the Mayo Clinic Telestroke Program and co-author of the study. He says the study revealed that the primary impediments to continued success in telemedicine are:
- Licensing restrictions
- The administrative burden of giving physicians privileges and credentials to engage in telemedicine and lining up malpractice insurance
- Limitations in ability for billing and reimbursement