While telemedicine adoption rates climbed to over 300% since 2015, tele-neurosurgery continues to be an underutilized specialty. An article in World Neurosurgery discusses risks and opportunities in providing virtual neurosurgical care. The majority of studies completed regarding quality telemedicine metrics often relate to tele-trauma and tele-stroke care, showing a lack of data in the tele-neurosurgical realm. Additionally, reimbursement and licensing challenges continue to be a barrier. Physicians interested in telemedicine currently have to obtain medical licenses in each state where they plan on practicing telemedicine. Each state has a unique process with some adopting the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact and others requiring telemedicine physicians to obtain a full, unrestricted medical license. The current time frame for licensure also varies from eight weeks up to six months. Not all states recognize telemedicine as a covered health service, allowing insurance companies to deny these nontraditional visits.
Although barriers exist in tele-neurosurgery, the benefits continue to surpass these barriers. An economic benefit of tele-neurosurgery is the estimated total savings for patients when reviewing time spent traveling. 95% of patients who had neurological care are via telemedicine preferred to continue care in this manner. Patients no longer have to take a full day to travel, get a hotel room, see their surgeon, and then travel home. A study of 354 patients showed a savings of almost $50,000. Hospitals also see an economic benefit with the reduction of unnecessary transfers and increased patient retention.
Specialist TeleMed’s specialists excel in tele-neurosurgery as one of the first organizations to offer this service. In hospitals where our services have been implemented, the analysis of data showed improvement in unnecessary transfers and higher quality referrals, relating to increased revenue and patient satisfaction.