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Telemedicine

The issue

Many patients with severe pain are limited in their abilities to get to and from doctors’ appointments. Telemedicine is an exciting new frontier in health care that can provide more accessible, streamlined treatment by connecting patients and clinicians virtually. Telemedicine is not designed to replace in-office visits, but it can serve as a convenient, accessible supplement to traditional care. Most often, telemedicine is practiced through online video conferencing or over the phone, but it can also take the form of email, digital imaging, and other technology.

The problem

Although telemedicine holds promise, it is not widely reimbursed by insurers, which means many clinicians do not offer it. According to a poll of 1,500 family physicians published in the American Academy of Family Physicians, only 15 percent had used telemedicine in their practice—but 90 percent said they would if it were appropriately reimbursed.

Our position: Support

In addition to benefiting people with disabling health problems who have mobility issues, telemedicine also helps those who live in rural communities, who may have to travel long distances for appropriate care. A study published in the Clinical Journal of Pain reviewed eight Canadian patients who each lived about 200 miles from their respective doctors. Researchers found that both patients and doctors saved time and money by meeting virtually. Beyond providing more physically accessible care, telemedicine may be more cost- and time-effective for patients and clinicians alike. One study found that doctors and patients using telemedicine for chronic pain follow-up care may save money and time. Read our full position statement here.

Researchers found that both patients and doctors saved time and money by meeting virtually.

Examples of U.S. Pain’s efforts

Resources

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