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Alaska, Arkansas, South Dakota, Maine, Rhode Island and Utah are some of the state receptive to implementing telehealth innovation technology for their chronic condition patients.

February 6, 2014 by Health Affairs

Alaska tops the list for telehealth adoption

Two recent studies published in this month’s issue of the journal Health Affairs examine adoption and use of telehealth—finding that adoption varies by state and by type of health system. Telehealth adoption varies by state

One study found that states’ differing policies on telehealth affect whether hospitals adopt such services. The study used data from the IT part of the American Hospital Association’s 2012 Annual Survey of Hospitals.

Researchers found that 42% of hospitals in the United States are equipped with telehealth capabilities. States with the highest rates of telehealth adoption were:

  • Alaska, with a 75% adoption rate;
  • Arkansas, with a 71% adoption rate;
  • South Dakota, with a 70% adoption rate; and
  • Maine, with a 69% adoption rate.

Meanwhile, the states with the lowest rates of telehealth adoption were:

  • Rhode Island, with a 0% adoption rate; and
  • Utah, with a 13% adoption rate.

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The study also found that certain health care systems were more likely to offer telehealth services, such as:

  • Hospitals with more advanced technology;
  • Not-for-profit organizations; and
  • Teaching hospitals

In addition, hospitals were more likely to adopt telehealth services in states with policies that offer the same reimbursement rate for face-to-face visits as they do for telehealth visits, according to the study.

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RAND study examines telehealth users

A RAND study examined the use of telehealth among members of a commercial insurance plan that offered access to Teladoc, a 24-hour, Texas-based telehealth provider. Researchers found that during the 11-month study:

  • 291 patients used Teledoc for a consultation;
  • 883 visited an ED; and
  • 39,431 consulted with a primary care physician.

The telehealth users tended to be affluent, technology savvy, and younger.

The study also found that only 6% of telehealth users scheduled a follow-up consultation, compared with 13% of individuals visiting primary care physicians and 20% of ED users (Ross Johnson, Modern Healthcare, 2/3 [subscription required]; Hall, FierceHealthIT, 2/3).

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