Medicaid guidelines require all providers to practice within the scope of their State Practice Act. Some states have enacted legislation that requires providers using telemedicine technology across state lines to have a valid state license in the state where the patient is located. Any such requirements or restrictions placed by the state are binding under current Medicaid rules.
Although this is more difficult to prove, big payers like Blue Cross Blue Shield and Aetna are benefiting from telemedicine too. Patients with substance abuse disorders who are treated using various telemedicine strategies provide cost-savings for payers. The cost per treatment is cheaper overall and offers cost savings across the board. As technology continues to improve, the cost savings will become more visible.
Unlike online prescription scams which pop up from time to time, online medical consultations are completely legit. These services are provided by real doctors who speak with you, usually by video conference, and then send your prescription to a local pharmacy in your area for pickup. You can skip scheduling conflicts, doctor office waiting rooms, and long lines at the drop-of counter in the pharmacy.
As technology developed and wired communication became increasingly commonplace, the ideas surrounding telehealth began emerging. The earliest telehealth encounter can be traced to Alexander Graham Bell in 1876, when he used his early telephone as a means of getting help from his assistant Mr. Watson after he spilt acid on his trousers. Another instance of early telehealth, specifically telemedicine was reported in The Lancet in 1879. An anonymous writer described a case where a doctor successfully diagnosed a child over the telephone in the middle of the night. This Lancet issue, also further discussed the potential of Remote Patient Care in order to avoid unnecessary house visits, which were part of routine health care during the 1800s. Other instances of telehealth during this period came from the American Civil War, during which telegraphs were used to deliver mortality lists and medical care to soldiers.
Also impacting the rise of telemedicine today is the growing mobile health field. With the wide variety of mobile health apps and new mobile medical devices that are consumer-friendly, patients are starting to use technology to monitor and track their health. Simple home-use medical devices that can take vitals and diagnose ear infections, monitor glucose levels, or measure blood pressure let patients gather needed medical information for a doctor’s diagnosis, without going into the doctor’s office. And again, as more patients get proactive about using technology to manage their health, they also will be more open to alternative ways to get care – through telemedicine!
The complex US health care system is under a tremendous amount of pressure. Many traditional health care business models are designed to allow high-volume, low-cost procedures to offset the costs of low- volume, high-cost procedures. An upward shift in the aging population is projected to result in a large increase in demand for health care, and new legislation such as the Affordable Care Act has added uncertainty to the future of health care business models and payment. Telehealth is projected to grow worldwide to 1.8 million users by 2017, according to the World Market of Telehealth.
Cheryl Graf has worked in primary care since 1996 and provided virtual care since 2014. She received her Master of Nursing from Pacific Lutheran University. She also works for a local health system and provides temporary support for emergency departments near her home. Her experience includes emergency services, family practice, pediatrics and urgent care. Additionally, she has created and developed training materials for the Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner programs in Washington State. In her spare time, she enjoys golf, gardening and family time.
States may submit a coverage SPA to better describe the telemedicine services they choose to cover, such as which providers/practitioners are; where it is provided; how it is provided, etc. In this case, and in order to avoid unnecessary SPA submissions, it is recommended that a brief description of the framework of telemedicine be placed in an introductory section of the State Plan and then a reference made to telemedicine coverage in the applicable benefit sections of the State Plan. For example, in the physician section it might say that dermatology services can be delivered via telemedicine provided all state requirements related to telemedicine as described in the state plan are otherwise met.
Erin Aas has worked in primary care since 2005 and provided virtual care since 2012. Since receiving his Master of Nursing from Seattle University, he has provided comprehensive primary healthcare and promoted cultural competency in a variety of community health settings. In addition to his full-time work in virtual care, he works shifts in a local Emergency Department. He is proficient in conversational and medical Spanish. Outside of work, he is an accomplished guitarist, choral composer and Ironman triathlete.
There’s a lot to be optimistic about telemedicine. A survey of healthcare executives found improving the quality of patient care was their top reason for implementing telemedicine and in another study, respondents said the top benefit was ability to provide round-the-clock care. About half of patients also reported that telemedicine increases their involvement in treatment decisions, getting them engaged in managing their care. And with a potential $6 billion per yearthat US employers could save by offering telemedicine to employees, telemedicine can have a huge impact reaching past the healthcare industry.
The doctors can treat flu symptoms, rashes, allergies, urinary tract infections, and bronchitis—and even prescribe medication—without ever physically seeing the patient. Gorevic says nurses then go back and review the charts to effectively audit the diagnoses and treatment. Teladoc refers about 1% of consultations to the E.R., and 5% to 6% to a primary care physician or urgent care center. (No, you can’t find a new doctor through Teladoc: The company prohibits its doctors from seeing their online patients in real life.) Soon, Teladoc plans to expand its specialty offerings to include dermatology and behavioral health.
Online medical care might not be the doctors and nurses of your parents’ time, but it is a huge advancement that will help care for your parents’ future. Geriatric care is greatly impacted by the mobility of older patients and using technology-based doctor appointments is a much-needed solution. So, is this new-fangled approach to healthcare here to stay? It sure looks that way!
In-person patient-doctor visits are clearly valuable and necessary in many circumstances. Telemedicine is best used to supplement these visits – to do simple check-ins with patients and make sure everything is going well. For minor acute conditions (like infections), an in-person visit with an established patient is often not needed. In those cases, telemedicine can save the patient, the doctor, and the healthcare system time and money.
“Telehealth is different from telemedicine because it refers to a broader scope of remote healthcare services than telemedicine. While telemedicine refers specifically to remote clinical services, telehealth can refer to remote non-clinical services, such as provider training, administrative meetings, and continuing medical education, in addition to clinical services.”
Telehealth’s existence can be dated from the 1960’s with one of the earliest applications being the monitoring of the physiological parameters of astronauts. Over the years, thanks to technological advancement, there has been a number of technological and communications tools that have been implemented to enable the transfer of patient’s information for recommendations and consultations across almost every medical environment and specialty. Telehealth services have also been able to provide remote monitoring of the patient, consumer health communication and information and medical education for providers. Typically, delivery techniques include: networked programs that link tertiary medical centers to outlying centers and clinics in rural areas, home phone-video connections, point-to-point connection to hospitals and clinics, web-based e-health service pages and home monitoring links.
As various parties seek more efficient ways to provide care at less cost to the patient, telemedicine's role has grown. It is often a time-saving way for a consumer to see and speak to a clinician for minor and non-urgent medical needs instead of going to a primary care physician's office or emergency department. In recent years, many states have passed laws that make telemedicine easier to practice, and federal health regulators are also exploring ways to further grant Medicare reimbursements for telemedicine services.
In many states, current regulations require that any provider and patient doing a telemedicine visit have a pre-existing relationship. Usually this means that the provider and patient need to have had at least one in-person visit. This regulation is slowly changing as more companies like Teladoc and DoctoronDemand seek to connect patients with a random, on-call doctor for immediate care.
The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services defines telehealth as the use of electronic information and telecommunications technologies to support and promote long-distance clinical health care, patient and professional health-related education, public health and health administration. Technologies include videoconferencing, the internet, store-and-forward imaging, streaming media, and terrestrial and wireless communications.
Remote surgery (also known as telesurgery) is the ability for a doctor to perform surgery on a patient even though they are not physically in the same location. It is a form of telepresence. Remote surgery combines elements of robotics, cutting edge communication technology such as high-speed data connections, haptics and elements of management information systems. While the field of robotic surgery is fairly well established, most of these robots are controlled by surgeons at the location of the surgery.
“Another distinction between telemedicine and D2C telehealth is that telemedicine consultations are often with medical specialists like cardiologists, dermatologists and pulmonologists,” Downey continued. “These often occur when the patient is in an underserved rural community and the specialist is in a large urban area. The distance makes it difficult to make and keep appointments otherwise. D2C telehealth, on the other hand, best deals with minor primary care issues over the phone. If deemed to be a more serious health concern, the patient is told to make an appointment with a specialist or to proceed to a hospital emergency room.”
SSM Health telehealth programs use a variety of applications and services including two-way video, email, smart phones, wireless tools and other forms of telecommunications technology. These modern communication pipelines offer practitioners a channel to interact with the patient and exchange information, pictures and video. Our telehealth programs:
Sometimes called asynchronous telemedicine, store-and-forward solutions enable healthcare providers to forward and share patient medical data (lab results, images, videos, records) with a provider at a different location. These platforms offer a kind of sophisticated, secure, email platform – a way to share private patient data online in a secure way.
Significant hurdles for more wide-spread telehealth adoption are the limits on reimbursement and the inconsistent payer landscape. In a KLAS-CHIME study from October of last year, over 50 percent of respondents from 104 health care organizations indicated that limits on reimbursement constrict their ability to expand telehealth services for patients. Medicare and Medicaid offer disparate degrees of flexibility while private payers also represent varying levels of funding.
But investors had other worries that weren't related to the broader market. Teladoc Health CFO and COO Mark Hirschhorn sold more than $700,000 of his stock right after the company's third-quarter earnings update. A short-seller posted an online article predicting that sales for one of Teladoc's fastest-growing businesses would soon fall. These two stories hit on the same day. As you might imagine, Teladoc stock tanked in response.
In developed countries, health promotion efforts using telehealth have been met with some success. The Australian hands-free breastfeeding Google Glass application reported promising results in 2014. This application made in collaboration with the Australian Breastfeeding Association and a tech startup called Small World Social, helped new mothers learn how to breastfeed. Breastfeeding is beneficial to infant health and maternal health and is recommended by the World Health Organisation and health organisations all over the world. Widespread breastfeeding can prevent 820,000 infant deaths globally but the practice is often stopped prematurely or intents to do are disrupted due to lack of social support, know-how or other factors. This application gave mother's hands-free information on breastfeeding, instructions on how to breastfeed and also had an option to call a lactation consultant over Google Hangout. When the trial ended, all participants were reported to be confident in breastfeeding.
“I woke up Sunday morning with a dry cough and terrible headache,” Ben said. “Realizing I didn’t feel up to going to a clinic, I logged on to Medical City and selected the virtual option. Using the interface was straightforward. I answered several easy questions about my current condition and minutes later I received an email that my info was being examined. I was instructed to set up an account. A second email contained my prescription and expected recovery time. I sent the prescription to the pharmacy next to my house and good to go. In no time, I had the medication and was on my way to feeling better.”