If a practitioner serves several states, obtaining this license in each state could be an expensive and time-consuming proposition. Even if the practitioner never practices medicine face-to-face with a patient in another state, he/she still must meet a variety of other individual state requirements, including paying substantial licensure fees, passing additional oral and written examinations, and traveling for interviews.
More accessible, convenient healthcare for patients is the driving force behind the telemedicine field. Telemedicine was originally developed in the U.S. as a way to address care shortages, especially in remote rural areas. Now telemedicine is used around the world, whether it’s to provide basic healthcare in third-world countries or allow an elderly patient with mobility issues to see the doctor from home. Telemedicine has the power not only to break down typical geographical barriers to care access, but to make the entire healthcare delivery model more convenient to patients.
A major legal action prompt in telehealth thus far has been issues surrounding online prescribing and whether an appropriate clinician-patient relationship can be established online to make prescribing safe, making this an area that requires particular scrutiny. It may be required that the practitioner and patient involved must meet in person at least once before online prescribing can occur, or that at least a live-video conference must occur, not just impersonal questionnaires or surveys to determine need.
The U.S. spends over $2.9 trillion on healthcare every year, more than any other developed nation. On top of that, an estimated $200 billion of those costs are avoidable, unnecessary spending. Telemedicine has the power to cut our healthcare spending by reducing problems like medication non-adherence and unnecessary ER visits, and making typical doctor visits more efficient.
“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.”
Initially, Medicare only reimbursed providers for very specific health services provided via telemedicine, often with strict requirements. In the past few years with the rapid growth in the telemedicine industry, Medicare has expanded the list of reimbursable telemedicine services but still imposes many restrictions on how the service is provided.
This open, multidirectional sharing of knowledge and expertise creates new local capacity that didn't previously exist to treat devastating conditions like opioid addiction, rheumatoid arthritis, heart disease, HIV and hepatitis. In New Mexico, for example, the number of providers certified to treat opioid use disorder with buprenorphine has increased more than tenfold—from 36 in 2005 to 375 in 2014—following the launch of an ECHO for treating addiction.
Telepharmacy is the delivery of pharmaceutical care via telecommunications to patients in locations where they may not have direct contact with a pharmacist. It is an instance of the wider phenomenon of telemedicine, as implemented in the field of pharmacy. Telepharmacy services include drug therapy monitoring, patient counseling, prior authorization and refill authorization for prescription drugs, and monitoring of formulary compliance with the aid of teleconferencing or videoconferencing. Remote dispensing of medications by automated packaging and labeling systems can also be thought of as an instance of telepharmacy. Telepharmacy services can be delivered at retail pharmacy sites or through hospitals, nursing homes, or other medical care facilities.
Effective September 1, 2018, the AlaskaCare Employee Health Plan has partnered with Teladoc® to provide you with a convenient and affordable way to receive quality medical care. Teladoc® lets you talk with experienced doctors by phone or video anytime, anywhere. All Teladoc® doctors are board-certified, state-licensed and can treat many health issues, including:
Telehealth has emerged as a critical tool in providing health care services.  The practice covers a broad range of medical technology and services that collectively define the discipline. Telehealth is especially beneficial for patients who live in rural communities and other remote areas where medical professionals use the Internet to gather and share information as well as monitor the health conditions of patients by using peripheral equipment and software such as video conferencing devices, store-and-forward imaging, and streaming media. The following information details important factors that are shaping this burgeoning field.
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!
^ Wadsworth, Hannah E; Galusha-Glasscock, Jeanine M; Womack, Kyle B; Quiceno, Mary; Weiner, Myron F; Hynan, Linda S; Shore, Jay; Cullum, C. Munro (2016). "Remote Neuropsychological Assessment in Rural American Indians with and without Cognitive Impairment". Archives of Clinical Neuropsychology. 31 (5): 420. doi:10.1093/arclin/acw030. PMID 27246957.
However, for a while, adopting and investing in telehealth services had been too high, and the distribution of telehealth resolutions and hospital-based networks proved to be too costly. But now, due to technological improvement, improved broadband services are now powerful and easily affordable which makes the level of return on investment in telehealth higher than ever before. Across almost all medical specialties, telehealth services can be applied in connecting providers with different patients in different locations via real-time audio and video. In other cases, service centers can use telemedicine to collect remotely as well as send data to a central monitoring system for interpretation.