Growth of telemedicine slowed by internet access, insurance billing

Nov 30, 2019

Telemedicine has made strides in Indiana since the state passed its first major piece of legislation in 2015, regulating the new technology and requiring private payers and Medicaid to cover telehealth services.

Today, more hospitals and providers are offering consultations and services through virtual visits than ever before, and more rural Hoosiers are tapping into the convenience of talking to a physician through a computer or cellphone rather than potentially driving an hour to the nearest clinic.

A case in point is Community Health Network, which has nine hospitals in the state and launched its telehealth services in late 2017. Since then, the number of patients using the service has more than doubled from around 30 visits a month to around 70. This month, 130 patients will use the network’s telemedicine service.


But Allison Orwig, project coordinator for the Indiana Telehealth Network, a program administered through the Indiana Rural Health Association, said while telemedicine is growing, roadblocks still exist in getting it out to the rural parts of the state, where access to doctors and medical specialists is severely limited.

“Telemedicine is expanding massively, but when you talk about getting it all the way out to people’s homes, that’s the last piece of it,” she said. “It’s expanding to clinics and schools and jails pretty darn quick. But that last-mile connection into people’s physical homes is still a ways off.”

And the biggest reasons for that boils down to two problems: internet access and insurance billing.


Posted by Tribune Star on Nov. 30, 2019.