March 11, 2024
Providers | Tea Leaves
  • Billing for patient messages sent to providers has risen in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a study published in JAMA. Charging for e-visits, or asynchronous messages that require medical decision-making and take at least five minutes of clinician time over the course of a week, spiked at the beginning of the pandemic as health systems shifted to virtual care. But billing fell after the early pandemic peak before beginning to steadily increase again in mid-2021. More than 470 health care organizations billed at least 50 e-visits in the third quarter of 2022, an increase of nearly 40% compared with the same period in the previous year. The upturn suggests organizations now see e-visits as a long-term source of potential revenue, researchers said. (Article here)
  • Aging hospital infrastructure, particularly in rural areas, is a growing concern as increased costs amid lower payments from insurance plans make it harder for small hospitals to fund large capital improvement projects. High inflation and rising interest rates coming out of the pandemic are making it tougher for aging facilities to qualify for loans or other types of financing to upgrade their facilities to meet the ever-changing standards of medical care. Data on the age of hospitals is hard to come by because hospitals expand, upgrade, and refurbish different parts of their facilities over time. Research published in 2021 found that U.S. health care facilities had deferred about 41 percent of their maintenance and would need $243 billion to complete the backlog. (Article here)