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Modern communication makes it possible for physicians to consult patients without the expense and inconvenience of a doctor’s office visit. The practice, called telemedicine or telehealth, will not replace all in-person visits, but could save time and money for routine consultations and follow-ups.

A New Jersey law enacted this summer authorizes use of telemedicine and guarantees insurance plans will cover electronic visits the same as in-person visits.

Implementing such a program takes time and commitment, however. According Sue Schade of StarBridge Advisors, who has worked with four major health systems in rolling out virtual care capabilities, anyone considering launching a telehealth program shouldn’t just do it just for the sake of it.

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She recently gave a speech at a health forum in Chicago that was covered by Health IT News.

“You really need to focus on strategy,” said Schade. “Understand what your business drivers are. And from that, specific programs will become clear.”

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