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Pitt professor publishes article on expanding telemedicine trend

Ben Schmitt
| Saturday, Aug. 22, 2015, 11:15 p.m.

Dr. Jeremy Kahn, a health services researcher, physician and professor at the University of Pittsburgh's School of Medicine and Graduate School of Public Health, published an article in April in The New England Journal of Medicine highlighting his opinions on the challenges of telemedicine.

Here are some of his observations:

• Telemedicine has the potential to substantially expand access to high-quality health care, overcoming geographic and socioeconomic barriers to care.

• Most studies of telemedicine are methodologically weak before-and-after studies that rarely examine how patients will fare.

• Just as neurologists can use telemedicine to treat a stroke patient in a far-off rural hospital, primary care physicians can use it to treat nearby patients who have difficulty visiting a clinic.

• For patients, telemedicine can reduce travel expenses and the costs associated with obtaining care, such as missed hours or days of work. For payers, including Medicare and insurance companies, it has the potential to reduce reimbursements because people don't seek treatment as much.

• Even if a telemedicine consultation is more efficient than a face-to-face encounter (to the extent that telemedicine leads to more encounters overall), health care costs will increase.

• In hospital settings, telemedicine forces nurses to take orders from physicians they might not know, challenging traditional conception of teamwork and collaboration.

Source: “Virtual Visits — Confronting the Challenges of Telemedicine,” The New England Journal of Medicine, April 30

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