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Unveiling the Adoption and Barriers of Telemedicine in US Hospitals: A Comprehensive Analysis (2017-2022)

HumanInsight Unveiling the Adoption and Barriers of Telemedicine in US Hospitals: A Comprehensive Analysis (2017-2022)

J Gen Intern Med. 2024 Jul 10. doi: 10.1007/s11606-024-08853-0. Online ahead of print.


BACKGROUND: Telemedicine has emerged as a vital healthcare delivery model, especially pronounced during the COVID-19 pandemic. Our study uniquely focuses on an institutional lens, examining US hospitals to offer targeted policy implications.

OBJECTIVE: To investigate the trend in telemedicine adoption across US hospitals from 2017 to 2022 and analyze the institutional challenges they encounter, particularly in the realm of electronic health information exchange.

DESIGN: Cross-sectional study leveraging data from the American Hospital Association's (AHA) annual surveys for the years 2017 to 2021 and the 2022 AHA IT Supplement Survey.

SETTING: The study includes a national sample of US hospitals, covering a diverse range of hospital types including large, nonprofit, teaching, and system-affiliated institutions.

PARTICIPANTS: US hospitals form the study's participants, with a substantial response rate to the surveys.

MAIN MEASURES: Key metrics include the number of telemedicine patient encounters, percentage of hospitals offering telemedicine services, and institutional challenges to electronic health information exchange.

KEY RESULTS: Telemedicine encounters saw a 75% increase, growing from approximately 111.4 million in 2020 to nearly 194.4 million in 2021. The percentage of hospitals offering at least one form of telemedicine service went from 46% in 2017 to 72% in 2021. Larger, nonprofit, and teaching hospitals were more prone to telehealth adoption, without notable urban-rural disparities. While over 90% of hospitals allow patients to view and download medical records, only 41% permit online data submission. Importantly, 25% of hospitals identified Certified Health IT Developers such as EHR vendor as frequent culprits in information blocking, with cost being the primary obstacle.

CONCLUSIONS: The findings underscore the rapid yet uneven adoption of telemedicine services in U.S. hospitals. The results point to the need for comprehensive policy interventions to address the challenges identified and realize telemedicine's full potential in healthcare delivery and resilience.

PMID:38985409 | DOI:10.1007/s11606-024-08853-0

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