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ACP releases survey results about telehealth technology availability and use among internists

Press releases may be edited for formatting or style
Philadelphia, April 11, 2019 – Survey results released today by the American College of Physicians (ACP) at its Internal Medicine Meeting 2019 showed that 51 percent of internal medicine physicians and subspecialists who are members of ACP work in a practice that has implemented at least one of five different telehealth services: video visits, e-consults, remote patient monitoring, remote care management/coaching, and integration of data from patient wearables. Overall, ACP found that adoption and usage of telehealth among internists and subspecialists vary widely depending on application.

Telehealth, or telemedicine, is the use of technology to deliver care at a distance. ACP surveyed a random sample of 1,449 members aged 65 and younger in October 2018 and January 2019 to measure the availability and the use of telehealth technology. Completed responses were received from 233 members (16.1 percent response rate) providing outpatient care (72 percent general internal medicine specialists and 28 percent subspecialists).

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Telehealth is rapidly expanding and other surveys have reported that many patients would like to use virtual communication channels to confer with their physicians. ACP conducted the survey to understand the current level of adoption among internists and subspecialists, and to identify how ACP can help physicians respond to their patients’ interest in using telehealth.

“ACP recognizes that telehealth technologies have the potential to improve access for patients, enhance patient-physician collaboration, improve health outcomes, increase patient satisfaction, and reduce medical costs,” said ACP President Ana María López, MD, MPH, MACP. “Our survey gave us valuable information about the state of telehealth adoption among internists, what we can do to improve it, and how we can lead internal medicine physicians in the appropriate use of telehealth.”

Additional key findings of ACP’s survey include:

E-consults were implemented most widely (33 percent have technology), and they are used frequently among those with the technology (63 percent use every week).
Less widely available is technology for remote care management (24 percent) or video visits (18 percent).
Having the technology available does not equate to adoption and usage. Among those with the technology, only 19 percent use video visits every week, while 50 percent use remote care management every week.
Practicing internists are often not the decision-makers within their practice about whether a technology is implemented.
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