Carol Kane and Kurt Gillis, both of the American Medical Association (AMA) in Chicago, used data from the AMA's 2016 Physician Practice Benchmark Survey to calculate telemedicine use across a variety of specialties (Health Affairs, December 2018, Vol. 37:12, pp. 1923-1930).
Overall, in 2016, 15.4% of physicians worked in practices that used telemedicine for patient interactions, ranging from e-visits to video conferencing to remote patient monitoring, and 11.2% used it for interactions with other healthcare professionals. Larger practice size correlated with higher telemedicine use, Kane and Gillis noted; they theorized that this was an indication that smaller practices faced a financial burden to implementing telemedicine.
By specialty, radiology was the top telemedicine user for physician-to-patient interactions.
|Top 5 medical specialties using telemedicine
||Physician-to-patient telemedicine use rate
As for using telemedicine for interactions between physicians and other healthcare providers, emergency medicine had the highest use rate, at 38.8%, followed by pathology at 30.4%, radiology at 25.5%, ophthalmology at 14.9%, and neurology at 14.3%.
Within radiology, the researchers found that 42.7% of radiology interactions with telemedicine were classified as "store and forward" of medical data. Video conferencing made up 17% and remote patient monitoring made up 9.7%.
"Telemedicine has the potential to increase access to care, improve the quality of care provided, and reduce healthcare costs," Kane and Gillis wrote.
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