The Minneapolis Star-Tribune reports on the growth of telemedicine. The Mayo Clinic, for example, is getting into the act.
"The technology for telemedicine has been around for years, but there has been a catch: Insurers wouldn’t pay for its use. They paid for visits to a doctor’s office.
Now that’s changing, so more patients are likely to start logging in for their doctor’s appointments."
The payment hitch has prevented widespread use. But starting in January, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services will pay for some telemedicine services, including from nursing homes and community mental-health centers. Private health plans tend to follow Medicare’s lead.
One promising use of telemedicine: It can be cost-effective for checking in with patients who need frequent oversight: $12,000 for a year versus $15,000 for a single hospital stay.