The American College of Physicians (ACP) has released a new position paper on the practice and use of telemedicine in primary care and reimbursement policies associated with telemedicine use. The recommendations appear in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

The ACP Health and Public Policy Committee document states that telemedicine and telehealth have expanded rapidly across care settings with the everyday use of computer and smartphone technology. After reviewing studies, reports, and surveys of all applications and uses of telemedicine, patient satisfaction with telemedicine, quality of telemedicine, and legal issues and requirements, the ACP determined that the expanded role of telemedicine as a method of health care delivery should be supported.

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The recommendations include more than a dozen policy statements and advice for utilization and reimbursement, including the following:

  • Expanding the role of telemedicine as a method of health care delivery that may enhance patient–physician collaborations, improve health outcomes, increase access to care and members of a patient’s health care team, and reduce medical costs when used as a component of a patient’s longitudinal care.
  • Addressing the needs of all patients without disenfranchising financially disadvantaged populations or those with low literacy or low technologic literacy.
  • Being proactive in protecting oneself against liabilities and ensure that medical liability coverage includes provision of telemedicine services.
  • Reimbursement for appropriately structured telemedicine communications, whether synchronous or asynchronous and whether solely text-based or supplemented with voice, video, or device feeds in public and private health plans.

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