Communications technology is being used increasingly for telemedicine applications to improve access to medical care in rural areas. The most cost-effective applications are those that are paid for by insurers, such as the use of telemedicine for radiology, prisoner health care, psychiatry, and home health care. Other applications enhance access to care but are not cost-effective because third-party payers do not pay for related costs for professional fees or the implementation of the technology. Before implementing telemedicine programs, healthcare providers should determine whether they would receive a reasonable return on investment by evaluating all associated costs and estimating the amount of payment they can expect. As the use of telemedicine services increases, it is expected that third-party payers will pay for more of these services to control medical costs.
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