While rural CFOs acknowledge that telehealth has some financial advantages, they do not believe that it has improved their hospitals’ financial situations, according to a Dec. 5 report published in The American Journal of Managed Care.
The report’s authors interviewed 20 rural hospital CFOs and other hospital administrators from 10 states between October 2021 and January 2022. 17 represented critical access hospitals and 3 represented short-term acute care hospitals, according to the report.
Five findings to know:
- The CFOs interviewed reported that limited reimbursement, low volumes, preference for in-person care, and insufficient broadband were key challenges to telehealth’s financial viability.
- Most CFOs interviewed believed that telehealth was a loss leader or had a neutral impact on their finances.
- Of the hospitals featured in the sample, all but one operated multiple telehealth programs. CFOs shared that their motivation to implement telehealth was driven more by improving quality and, in some cases, keeping up with competition, rather than improving their financial position.
- The CFOs said that telehealth requires substantial initial investment in technology and the downstream financial benefits are hard to quantify and not always realized.
- Some CFOs interviewed said that the requirement that critical access hospitals maintain an average length of stay of less than 96 hours was a barrier to the growth of their impatient and ED-based telehealth programs.