There are several areas where telehealth medicine could make a significant impact. It could be used as a tool to remotely monitor patients who have recently been discharged. It may also help treat individuals with behavioral health issues who might normally avoid treatment due to its high cost, or to avoid any perceived public stigma.  The largest area where technology could advance medicine is in treating the chronically ill. These patients usually require many visits with several specialists who may practice at different and distant originating sites. To move telehealth forward, organizational leaders must present evidence to peers and patients that the technology offers value. In addition, care providers must work to transition patients from using telehealth services only for minor conditions (for headaches, colds, etc.), to accepting the technology as a viable replacement for costly physician office visits. Advocates for telehealth medicine must also develop quality controls, so that this potentially transformational tool can maximize its problem solving capabilities and its service effectiveness. To harness the benefits of telehealth technology, America’s brightest medical professionals (both experienced and up-and-coming) must make a concerted effort to incorporate the tool into their practices and make it a regular service offering. Today’s medical students — as they enter a world where telehealth is becoming more pervasive — can take part in what might be a monumental change in the way health professionals think about medical treatment.
In April 2012, a Manchester-based Video CBT pilot project was launched to provide live video therapy sessions for those with depression, anxiety, and stress related conditions called InstantCBT The site supported at launch a variety of video platforms (including Skype, GChat, Yahoo, MSN as well as bespoke) and was aimed at lowering the waiting times for mental health patients. This is a Commercial, For-Profit business.
Synchronous, real-time or Clinical Video Telehealth requires the presence of both parties at the same time and a communication link between them that allows a real-time interaction to take place. Video-conferencing equipment is one of the most common forms of technologies used in synchronous telehealth. There are also peripheral devices that can be attached to computers or the video-conferencing equipment which can aid in an interactive examination.
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.
However, whether or not the standard of health care quality is increasing is quite debatable, with literature refuting such claims. Research is increasingly reporting that clinicians find the process difficult and complex to deal with. Furthermore, there are concerns around informed consent, legality issues as well as legislative issues. Although health care may become affordable with the help of technology, whether or not this care will be "good" is the issue.
Video chatting has become ubiquitous with technology advances such as 4G internet speeds, low-cost smartphones and standardized phone operating systems. The advent of additional technology standards such as interoperable electronic health records (EHR), secure cloud storage (HIPAA), and wearable health trackers that can communicate with the smartphone has further incentivized consumers to jump on to the telehealth bandwagon. Perhaps the ultimate goal of telehealth is to bring continuous care to consumers while they are working or at home, years before they end up in a clinic.
Telehealth requires a strong, reliable broadband connection. The broadband signal transmission infrastructure includes wires, cables, microwaves and optic fibre, which must be maintained for the provision of telehealth services. The better the connection (bandwidth quality), the more data can be sent and received. Historically this has priced providers or patients out of the service, but as the infrastructure improves and becomes more accessible, telehealth usage can grow.
Their distinguishing feature is that they expand the point-to-point connection that is the foundation of telemedicine. Instead of connecting one person to one person for a single interaction, they connect many to many, on an ongoing basis. To address system challenges like access, quality and dissemination of best practices, we need these more powerful linkages.
Patients often look for a quick and inexpensive second opinion from a specialist, after diagnosis of a medical condition. Telemedicine has stepped up, by providing solutions in this aspect as well. Companies and traditional healthcare services such as Partners Healthcare, 2nd.MD, DoctorSpring, and Cleaveland Clinic are providing quick and efficient second opinions using telehealth.
From the late 1800s to the early 1900s the early foundations of wireless communication were laid down. Radios provided an easier and near instantaneous form of communication. The use of radio to deliver healthcare became accepted for remote areas. The Royal Flying Doctor Service of Australia is an example of the early adoption of radios in telehealth.
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.
Fundamentally, we tend to think of telemedicine as a way to overcome a serious distance barrier between a patient and a healthcare provider. This point-to-point connection supports a critical function. There are cases when a patient requires the care of a particular doctor at a particular time, and technology is the best way to facilitate that interaction.
Obamacare—or the Affordable Care Act, as it is officially called—has been a catalyst for Teladoc’s recent growth surge. The law puts pressure on doctor’s offices, who are seeing more patients, as well as employers, who are looking to cut healthcare costs. As a result, telemedicine is becoming increasingly popular as a cheaper alternative to going to the emergency room. Insurance companies including Aetna (AET), Blue Shield of California and Oscar—which offers Obamacare plans on New York’s health exchange—have recently signed on with Teladoc, as have Home Depot (HD), T-Mobile (TMUS), pension giant CalPERS, and others.
Visit Teladoc and set up an account using the information provided on your GuideStone/Highmark BCBS ID card. You'll also complete a medical history so that it's easy for the Teladoc physician to access when providing treatment. Or you can set up your account and provide your medical history by calling 1-800-TELADOC (1-800-835-2362). If they ask for your employer's name, be sure to tell them your coverage is provided through GuideStone/Highmark BCBS and provide the identification information from your ID card. Learn more about How to Register.
Telemedicine solutions that fall into the remote patient monitoring (RPM) allow healthcare providers to track a patient’s vital signs and other health data from a distance. This makes it easy to watch for warning signs and quickly intervene in patients who are at health-risk or are recovering from a recent surgery, for example. This type of telemedicine is sometimes also called telemonitoring or home telehealth.
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.