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Small physician practices embrace telemedicine

October 3, 2019

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The CMS launched an initiative Thursday to help it determine what provider regulations it should junk or revamp, citing growing concerns that its regulations are reducing the time providers spend with patients.

As part of the Patient over Paperwork initiative, CMS officials will travel the country to gather information on the impact their regulations have on physicians. Those conversations have been taking place informally for weeks.

The outreach effort comes at a time that primary-care physicians are spending 27% of their time on clinical activities and 49% on administrative activities, according to a 2016 Annals of Internal Medicine study. The CMS now releases around 58 rules, or 11,000 pages of regulation, each year.

Sure, the biggest telemedicine programs are run out of large hospitals and health systems. But increasingly, standalone primary care providers and specialists are finding value in seeing patients remotely—both to keep revenues that might otherwise go to outside telemedicine providers and as a cost-effective way to attract patients from a wider region.

Smaller practices are looking to expand their offerings as well. Kenneth M. Klebanow, M.D. & Associates, a pediatric practice with 16 providers in Columbia, Maryland, started offering telemedicine services to the practice’s students enrolled in Howard County schools as part of a local government initiative in 2015.

At first, doctors were concerned that they would miss something by seeing their young patients on video. “I talked them through it; a child would not be in school with something serious that would be discovered in a telemedicine visit,” Ken Klebanow, M.D., tells FierceHealthcare. The average in-school visit takes about 10 minutes, with a school nurse using digital equipment to check temperature and blood pressure, transmit views of the ears and eyes and relay other critical measures.

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