Lewin conducted 15 telephone interviews with experts in various aspects of telemedicine to obtain first-hand information regarding telemedicine evaluation. Interviewees were selected based on recommendations by the Advisory Committee and the review of recent literature on telemedicine evaluation. These experts helped Lewin to identify areas in which current and future evaluations are likely to be most useful in informing future policy and program decisions. (These experts are listed in Appendix D.) The discussions were structured informally. Respondents were asked open-ended questions that addressed the areas of quality of care, health outcomes, access to care, costs, patient and clinician perceptions, and reimbursement for telemedicine services. Respondents were questioned in greater depth on issues about which they were particularly knowledgeable. Examples of the types of questions raised to the interviewees included the following.
- On what area of evaluation do you think (telemedicine) evaluators should be focusing? Quality of care and health outcomes? Access to care? Costs and cost-benefit? Patient perceptions? Clinician perceptions?
- What specific questions should evaluators of telemedicine programs be asking (with respect to the above areas of evaluation) to ensure effective evaluations?
- To what degree do you feel reimbursement drives and/or directs use of telemedicine services, and subsequent evaluations of such programs?
- What do you see as the emerging issues (in terms of policy and evaluation) within the field of telemedicine?