Telemedicine: Takeaways at Symposium

Industry experts, executives, and consultants presented their thoughts and ideas at the Credit Suisse 2019 Health Insurance Symposium held in New York on May 22, 2019. The symposium covered a variety of topics and was well attended by many investors.

Ann Mond Johnson, CEO, American Telemedicine Association (ATA) spoke at the Symposium’s Telehealth/Telemedicine Market Update Session. She addressed seven myths with respect to telemedicine, noting that ATA is very focused on addressing the myths existing in the marketplace.

Myth #1 Telemedicine is Only for Rural Areas– Early adopters of telehealth are young, urban, higher income, and privately insured. In fact, adoption in urban areas has been slightly higher in urban areas than rural areas.

Myth #2 Telemedicine is More Expensive—Telemedicine can be an effective tool to triage patients and then redirect patients to more appropriate less costly venues for care. Citing the 2018 Accenture Consumer Survey on Digital Health, cost reduction has been one of the top advantages for virtual healthcare vs an in-person visit. The presenter believes that the myth that telemedicine is more expensive than an in-person visit is primarily driven by CBO’s scoring approach on this technology. CBO tends to project that telehealth services will be added to existing healthcare utilization instead of replacing existing healthcare utilization.

Myth #3 Telemedicine is Not High Quality— Telehealth increases patient feelings of personal involvement in their own care. According to a Deloitte 2018 survey of U.S physicians, a majority of physicians see the benefits of virtual care in terms of access to care, patient satisfaction, and that communication is improved with the care team.

Myth #4 Telemedicine is Impersonal– Several studies show that patients perceive changes once they have experienced the use of the technology. According to a Rock Health study, respondents who had a prior in-person visit followed by a telemedicine interaction were significantly more likely to be satisfied with their telemedicine visit. For example, 92% of respondents with a prior in-person visit were satisfied with their video visit as compared to 53% satisfaction among those without a prior in-person visit.

Myth #5 Providers Prescribe More Drugs with Telemedicine—Telemedicine channels are bound by the same regulations and checks as when patients are seen in-person. Data shows that individuals willing to have an online video visit which is around 80% of individuals are interested in prescription refills via a video visit with the doctor. In fact, around 78% of those willing to have a video visit with a provider, 78% of those individuals want it for prescription refills.

Myth #6 Telemedicine is a Threat to Providers—Telemedicine can add value as virtual care supports the goals of patient-centricity and higher patient satisfaction scores. However, it has been noted that physicians appear less enthusiastic about telemedicine with only 15% of physicians currently offering virtual visits. Among those who don’t have the technology, only 18% intend to add the capability within the next two years. While many physicians worry there is greater chance for medical error if they are not physically interacting with the patient, some see data security as an area of concern. Despite these issues, the vast majority of physicians understand the potential benefits of virtual care, especially when it comes to helping improve the patient experience.

Myth #7 Telemedicine is Only Synchronous Communication– The presenter noted that although asynchronous communication optimizes the telemedicine platform, telehealth comprises several forms of communications including:

  •  Provider-to-patient virtual visits, wearables, and secure messaging
  • Telehealth modalities such as real time virtual visits, remote patient monitoring, asynchronous store-and-forward
  • Provider to Provider eConsults, use of implantables, and second opinion consults.


Email A.J Rice Research Analyst at, or call 212-325-8134 or Jailendra Singh Research Analyst at, or call 212-325-8121 for more information or to provide feedback on the Symposium’s Telemedicine/Telehealth Market Update Session.

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