Harvard Business Review

Telemedicine is Vital to Reforming Health Care Delivery

By Joseph Kvedar, MD

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ARTICLE SUMMARY

"The widely held goal of improving health care outcomes while lowering costs is accelerating the shift from a one-to-one to a one-to-many model of care delivery, which telemedicine makes possible."

Health care remains one of the few services that require people to have a face-to-face interaction to obtain access. But more and more consumers are questioning that reality, and change is on the way. In January 2015, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued a new provider reimbursement code for non–face-to-face health care services for patients who have chronic medical conditions. A new CMS code may seem like a tiny matter, but this one emblemizes a larger shift toward delivering health services independently of time and place, enabled by technologies such as smartphones, sensors, and wireless health-monitoring devices — what we in the field call telemedicine.