The use of telehealth services in New York State has been identified as a priority by the State Workforce Advisory Group (WAG). WAG is a coalition of health professional and provider associations concerned with the maldistribution of healthcare providers and the impact this has on the State’s underserved populations.
WAG established the subcommittee Telehealth Workgroup that recommended that a survey of the state’s health providers be conducted to better understand which telehealth applications are most often used and what barriers exist to expanding telehealth services.
The Workgroup helped develop the electronic survey on current and future plans for telehealth services. In addition, the NY State Department of Health (NYSDOH) www.health.ny.gov provided financial support for the Center for Health Workforce Studies (CHWS) www.chws.albany.edu to administer the survey, analyze responses, and produce the final report “An Exploratory Study of the Use of Telehealth Services by FQHCs and Hospitals in New York State” (2015).
Overall, 51 percent of both FQHC and hospital respondents indicated they use telehealth services. Respondents that use telehealth services 60 percent of the time, used them on a daily basis, 19 percent used telehealth on a weekly basis, and the remaining 21 percent used them on a monthly basis.
FQHCs and hospitals in urban areas were more likely to use telehealth services on a daily basis as FQHCs and hospitals in rural areas were much more likely to use telehealth services on a weekly basis.
Urban FQHCs and hospitals were more likely to act as telehealth hubs than those located in rural areas. In contrast, only 40 percent of rural FQHCs and hospitals indicated that they served as a telehealth hub.
Almost 90 percent of FQHCs and hospitals use telehealth services for clinical functions. Nearly 55 percent of responding FQHCs and hospitals use telehealth services for both clinical and nonclinical functions.
Current users of telehealth services were more likely to report plans to expand the use of telehealth than nonusers were to report plans to begin using them. However, 57 percent of current users plan to expand their use of telehealth but only 32 percent of nonusers plan to begin using telehealth services.
Fifty percent of FQHCs and hospital survey respondents indicated that reimbursement and financial issues plus equipment start-up costs were the most substantial barriers to implementing the use of telehealth services.
The report indicates that future research should evaluate the types of applications used by telehealth providers as well as the use of telehealth by other healthcare providers such as nursing homes, home care agencies, and private practice physicians. The survey indication that it might be useful to conduct case studies on telehealth “best practices” in the state.
Go to http://chws.albany.edu/archive/uploads/2015/11/Telehealth_Services_NY_2015.pdf to view the report.