PHILADELPHIA April 17, 2023 –As the amount of health care services provided to patients using telemedicine increases, we must ensure the quality of the performance measures being used to evaluate that care, says the American College of Physicians (ACP) in a new policy paper published today in the Annals of Internal Medicine. Performance Measures for Physicians Providing Clinical Care Using Telemedicine: A Position Paper from the American College of Physicians, details new recommendations to ensure that as measures are developed to gauge telemedicine services they are evidence-based, methodologically sound and clinically meaningful.
“Over the course of the COVID-19 public health emergency we have seen a marked increase in telemedicine visits with our patients,” said Ryan D. Mire, MD, MACP, president, ACP. “Telemedicine can be a significant benefit to patients, increasing access to care and allowing care to be provided more efficiently. However, as we begin to develop performance measures to evaluate how physicians are doing in performing those services we need to make sure the measures are appropriate.”
The focus of this paper is telemedicine services provided in an ambulatory care environment, including via interactive audio and video telecommunications systems. ACP recommends that any performance measure used to evaluate telemedicine visits should adhere to the same criteria as in-person visits, and that existing measures for in-person visits should be evaluated to see whether it would be appropriate to also include telemedicine visits. ACP also cautions that telemedicine visits need to be incorporated into electronic health records systems, so that those visits do not become standalone encounters further fragmenting care delivery. The paper strongly recommends that measures must be tested to show that they are reliable and valid for the telemedicine environment, as well as attributed at the appropriate level, whether that’s to an individual physician, group practice, health system or health plan. Lastly, ACP recommends that measures should be used to evaluate the impact of telemedicine on under-resourced communities to ensure that access and quality of care are not harmed in communities that lack digital access.
“The same principles that we apply to quality measurement for in-person care should also be applied to the development of measures for telemedicine,” concluded Dr. Mire. “The goal in all of our patient interactions is to provide high-quality care. Telemedicine can be an important tool in doing so and we need to make sure that measures encourage that high-quality without unnecessary burden, particularly for under-resourced communities and patients.”
About the American College of Physicians
The American College of Physicians is the largest medical specialty organization in the United States with members in more than 145 countries worldwide. ACP membership includes 160,000 internal medicine physicians, related subspecialists, and medical students. Internal medicine physicians are specialists who apply scientific knowledge and clinical expertise to the diagnosis, treatment, and compassionate care of adults across the spectrum from health to complex illness. Follow ACP on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.
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