Telehealth is the remote delivery of healthcare services using telecommunications technologies, including phone, video, email, patient portals, and mobile devices. While telehealth applications have been around for decades, advancements in technology are spurring a resurgence of interest in telehealth among patients, healthcare providers, policymakers and health system leaders.
What is the Telehealth Research Incubator (TRI)?
Our mission is to develop and use rigorous scientific methods to evaluate telehealth on four specific outcomes:
- Patient experience
Launched through funding from the Michigan Program on Value Enhancement's Research Innovation Challenge, TRI leverages collective expertise from University of Michigan clinicians and scientists to develop and operationalize cutting-edge methods to evaluate federal/state telehealth policies and institutional programs.
Our collaborators include faculty from Michigan Medicine, the School of Public Health, the Ross School of Business, the College of Engineering, the Center for Evaluating Health Reform, and the Survey Research Center. TRI also has access to large Medicare and commercial payer databases (Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, Optum, Marketscan) to conduct telehealth policy analyses.
Chad Ellimoottil, M.D., M.S., director of the U-M Telehealth Research Incubator, explains telehealth’s potential to bring greater value, quality, and access to healthcare delivery, and the important questions to consider in evaluating telehealth policies and implementation.
How can we work with you?
The Telehealth Research Incubator partners with health systems, professional organizations, researchers, and governmental agencies to evaluate telehealth policies and programs on cost, quality, access and the patient experience. Please contact us (info below) if you are interested in discussing a research contract or collaborative grant application.
Utilization of telehealth by providers in Accountable Care Organizations
Using national Medicare data, our team is studying how telehealth is utilized by providers in Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs). ACOs have inherent incentives to use telehealth to improve population health. Additionally, new policies/waivers have given ACO providers greater flexibility to use telehealth.
The impact of telehealth insurance expansion by a large commercial payer on cost, quality, and access to care
Using data from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan (BCBSM), our team is performing pre-post analysis to evaluate the impact of a BCBSM telehealth reimbursement policy change that allowed patients to conduct video visits from their home.
Telehealth and access to specialty care
Using national Medicare and commercial payer claims, our team is conducting a line of research evaluating how telehealth impacts access to medical and surgical specialty care for underserved populations, including rural and low-income patients.
Using time-based activity based costing to understand the value of video visits
Using a novel methodology to calculate the cost of labor resources, we are determining the optimal way that video visits can be integrated into surgical clinics.
Development and validation of a rapid cycle evaluation tool for telehealth implementation
Working with the Survey Research Center, we are developing a text-based tool to collect key feedback from patients instantly after video visits. The feedback on a number of telehealth implementation issues (technical issues, logistics, quality) can be used by health systems in a rapid-cycle manner to make changes to their telehealth implementation strategies.