Universal Service Administrative Company: Abbreviated as USAC, the Universal Service Administrative Company is responsible for administering USFs or Universal Service Funds to allow easy access to telecommunication services across the country. The Rural Health Care Division which is under USAC as well manages discount programs for telecommunications health care.
In 1967 one of the first telemedicine clinics was founded by Kenneth Bird at Massachusetts General Hospital. The clinic addressed the fundamental problem of delivering occupational and emergency health services to employees and travellers at Boston's Logan International Airport, located three congested miles from the hospital. Over 1,000 patients are documented as having received remote treatment from doctors at MGH using the clinic's two-way audiovisual microwave circuit.[13] The timing of Bird's clinic more or less coincided with NASA's foray into telemedicine through the use of physiologic monitors for astronauts.[14] Other pioneering programs in telemedicine were designed to deliver healthcare services to people in rural settings.[citation needed] The first interactive telemedicine system, operating over standard telephone lines, designed to remotely diagnose and treat patients requiring cardiac resuscitation (defibrillation) was developed and launched by an American company, MedPhone Corporation, in 1989. A year later under the leadership of its President/CEO S Eric Wachtel, MedPhone introduced a mobile cellular version, the MDPhone. Twelve hospitals in the U.S. served as receiving and treatment centers.[15]
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.
Informed consent is another issue – should the patient give informed consent to receive online care before it starts? Or will it be implied if it is care that can only practically be given over distance? When telehealth includes the possibility for technical problems such as transmission errors or security breaches or storage which impact on ability to communicate, it may be wise to obtain informed consent in person first, as well as having backup options for when technical issues occur. In person, a patient can see who is involved in their care (namely themselves and their clinician in a consult), but online there will be other involved such as the technology providers, therefore consent may need to involve disclosure of anyone involved in the transmission of the information and the security that will keep their information private, and any legal malpractice cases may need to involve all of those involved as opposed to what would usually just be the practitioner.[22][42][43]
NewYork-Presbyterian is making investments in all of these because it believes telemedicine and virtual medicine in general will make delivery of care more efficient and higher-quality in the long run, he explained. Each telemedicine modality has its own associated cost and reimbursement, and the organization is making decisions on where to put its efforts not based on net revenue but on the impact that each will have for patients, he added.
Telehealth - powered by Teladoc - is a convenient, affordable new way to access quality care for general medical, behavioral health, and dermatology2 services by web, phone3, or mobile app. Connect with a board-certified doctor, therapist, or dermatologist from the comfort of home, during your lunch break, or while traveling throughout the country. 

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Founded only eight months ago, Doctor On Demand has gained rapid visibility thanks to its founders, television personality Dr. Phil and his son Jay McGraw who produces The Doctors, a health talk show where viewers can submit questions to a small stable of doctors. The McGraws flog the service on their shows to millions of mostly young women who are not necessarily aware that the McGraws are stakeholders, since disclosure appears with the credit roll. (Rival Dr. Oz who’s an investor in health and wellness platform Sharecare also uses his show to publicize that start-up).
Telepathology has been successfully used for many applications including the rendering histopathology tissue diagnoses, at a distance, for education, and for research. Although digital pathology imaging, including virtual microscopy, is the mode of choice for telepathology services in developed countries, analog telepathology imaging is still used for patient services in some developing countries.
In layman’s language, telemedicine and telehealth are terms that represent the transfer and exchange of medical information between different sites. From the American Telemedicine Association’s point of view; telemedicine, as well as telehealth, are all about transmission of still images, patient’s consultations through video conferencing, patient portals, remote control and monitoring of vital signs, continuing medical education, patient-focused wireless applications and nursing call centers and many other applications.

Without a doubt, the emergency room is one of the most expensive, overcrowded, and stressful environments in healthcare. With telemedicine, overcrowded emergency rooms can be reduced by having patients see a remote physician using video chat first. The remote physician can determine if that individual should seek care in an emergency department, which increases ED efficiency.
A landmark 2010 report by the World Health Organization found that telemedicine – literally meaning “healing from a distance” — can be traced back to the mid-1800s, was first featured in published accounts early on in the 20th Century, and adopted its modern form in the late 1960s and early 1970s, primarily through the military and space industries. Owing to the fact that much of the technology encompassed in today’s telemedicine platform wasn’t around back then, and noting a 2007 study that found 104 different peer-reviewed definitions for the word, the WHO settled on its own broad-based definition:
This expectation for more convenient care, combined with the unavailability of many overburdened medical professionals (especially primary care providers) have led to the rise of telemedicine companies. Many offer patients 24/7 access to medical care with an on-call doctor contracted by that company. Others offer hospitals and larger health centers access to extra clinical staff and specialists, for outsourcing of special cases (common model among teleradiology companies). Still others provide a telemedicine platform for physicians to use to offer virtual visits with their own patients. Increasingly, telemedicine is becoming a way to give medical practices an edge in a competitive healthcare landscape where it’s difficult to stay independent or maintain a healthy bottom line.
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.
“It really helped our emergency room with treating stroke patients and benefited patient care by avoiding transportation when minutes matter,” he explained. “We see telemedicine as a solution to expand access to care without leaving the home, as well as a solution for gaining access to a specialist who may not have the patient volumes to relocate to our market.”

Additionally, Medicare will only pay for telemedicine services when the patient is located in a Health Professional Shortage Area and receives care from an eligible provider. The medical service itself also has to fall under one of thesecovered CPT/HCPCS codes. When all these conditions are met, Medicare pays for 80% of the physician fee (other 20% is paid by the patient) and will additionally pay a facility fee to the originating site.
The range and use of telehealth services have expanded over the past decades, along with the role of technology in improving and coordinating care. Traditional models of telehealth involve care delivered to a patient at an originating (or spoke) site from a specialist working at a distant (or hub) site. A telehealth network consists of a series of originating sites receiving services from a collaborating distant site.
One of the biggest advantages of telehealth services is easy access to on-demand care. During a telemedicine consultation, a physician can inquire about symptoms, discuss treatment and determine whether a prescription is necessary. More importantly, for patients who don’t have a reliable means of transportation or who struggle with mobility challenges or disabilities that make traveling difficult, remote access can be a huge quality of life improvement. This is especially true for those living with chronic conditions for which frequent checkups are necessary. Telehealth services are also helping to fill healthcare gaps faced by rural communities across the United States — in areas where patients may have to drive for hours to get to the nearest hospital or specialist.
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It has not only expanded and improved access to healthcare services, but also increased patient engagement and enabled more efficient care models. The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is one of the largest providers of telehealth services. Last year, more than 700,000 veterans accessed VA telehealth services, which include everything from mental healthcare to surgical specialist consultations. But it’s not just veterans who are benefiting.

Real-time communication is probably what jumps to mind when you think of telehealth technology. It happens with the patient is at one location and the provider is at another and they connect using a video-enabled device and a telephone or computer audio. Sometimes the patient might be at a healthcare facility with a provider and they establish communications with a specialist at a remote location, other times the patient might not be at a medical office at all. She might join the encounter from work or the office, for example. Many state laws require insurers to reimburse for these types of video visits. Most don’t have a similar stipulation for telephone calls that don’t involve video.

Telepsychiatry – Telepsychiatry allows qualified psychiatrists to provide treatment to patients remotely, expanding access to behavioral health services. Telepsychiatry is incredibly popular, in part because of the nation-wide shortage of available psychiatrists, and because psychiatry often does not require the same physical exams of the medical field.
As the CCHP notes, different organizations have different definitions for telehealth. California very specifically defines it as “the mode of delivering healthcare services and public health via information and communication technologies to facilitate the diagnosis, consultation, treatment, education, care management and self-management of a patient's healthcare while the patient is at the originating site and the healthcare provider is at a distant site. Telehealth facilitates patient self-management and caregiver support for patients and includes synchronous interactions and asynchronous store and forward transfers.” The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), meanwhile, defines it as “the use of electronic information and telecommunications technologies to support long-distance clinical healthcare, patient and professional health-related education, public health and health administration.”
The company employs its own doctors and staffs its video consultation service 24 hours a day, seven days a week, Ferguson says. Despite the workload — which sees the company’s virtual doctors consult with four patients each hour on average — the company’s 14-day readmission rate (a standard measure of effective diagnoses) is on par with brick and mortar services, Ferguson says.
Store-and-forward is the oldest form of telehealth technology. It refers to the transmission of images or information from one provider to another. For example, if your doctor sends digital images of an x-ray to a radiologist for analysis, they are leveraging store-and-forward telehealth technology. This is one of the most common uses, but images and information of any type can be transmitted in this matter. One thing we should point out, however, is that store-and-forward telehealth is not always covered by state telemedicine reimbursement laws, even in states that require parity for real-time communication.
Healthcare systems, physician practices, and skilled nursing facilities are using telemedicine to provide care more efficiently. Technologies that comes integrated with telemedicine software like electronic medical records, AI diagnosis and medical streaming devices, can better assist providers in diagnosis and treatment. The latter allows providers to monitor patients in real-time and adjust treatment plans when necessary. Ultimately, this leads to better patient outcomes.
Through telemedicine, doctors and other health professionals provide an array of important clinical services—from diagnosis to imaging to surgery to counseling—to patients in remote locations. You can find telemedicine (sometimes referred to as "telehealth" in certain contexts) in hospital operating rooms, in rural community health centers, in school-based clinics, in ambulances, and in nursing homes.
“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.”

There certainly has been a lot of excitement around how novel digital technology can change the patient-provider relationship. A recent survey found that 64% of patients are willing to have video visits with their physicians, and the telehealth industry is expected to expand 10-fold by 2018. Apps like Doctor on Demand could play a major role in bringing telehealth mainstream; notably, Richard Branson (the man behind the Virgin Group empire), has recently invested in Doctors On Demand. The biggest benefits of virtual health apps are in lowering costs and saving time, particularly for those who cannot access care nearby. In a disease like diabetes, where blood glucose data can be analyzed remotely, there certainly is a lot of potential for technology to improve care. For more information on the role of virtual health in diabetes, check out our conference pearls from AADE 2014. –AJW/KC/AB


According to this 2015 Cardiac Implantable Electronic Device (CIED) study, patients whose implantation included remote monitoring capabilities had a higher rate of survival than patients without it. “ Furthermore, according to the Center for Technology and Aging, patients who participated in RPM were less likely to experience hospital stays, incurred fewer ED and urgent-care visits, and reported better management of their symptoms. They also indicated increased physical stamina as well as greater overall patient satisfaction and emotional well-being.
^ Cartwright M, Hirani SP, Rixon L, Beynon M, Doll H, Bower P, et al. (February 2013). "Effect of telehealth on quality of life and psychological outcomes over 12 months (Whole Systems Demonstrator telehealth questionnaire study): nested study of patient reported outcomes in a pragmatic, cluster randomised controlled trial". BMJ (Clinical Research Ed.). 346: f653. doi:10.1136/bmj.f653. PMC 3582704. PMID 23444424.

The company employs its own doctors and staffs its video consultation service 24 hours a day, seven days a week, Ferguson says. Despite the workload — which sees the company’s virtual doctors consult with four patients each hour on average — the company’s 14-day readmission rate (a standard measure of effective diagnoses) is on par with brick and mortar services, Ferguson says.
Through telemedicine, doctors and other health professionals provide an array of important clinical services—from diagnosis to imaging to surgery to counseling—to patients in remote locations. You can find telemedicine (sometimes referred to as "telehealth" in certain contexts) in hospital operating rooms, in rural community health centers, in school-based clinics, in ambulances, and in nursing homes.

Did you know that there are different types of telemedicine? That’s right, there are a few different ways that healthcare systems can use telemedicine to assist patients. As discussed in previous articles, telemedicine is the method of using telecommunications to connect patients and providers over a distance. Today, there are three different types of telemedicine used and it includes the following:
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), is a United States Federal Law that applies to all modes of electronic information exchange such as video-conferencing mental health services. In the United States, Skype, Gchat, Yahoo, and MSN are not permitted to conduct video-conferencing services unless these companies sign a Business Associate Agreement stating that their employees are HIPAA trained. For this reason, most companies provide their own specialized videotelephony services. Violating HIPAA in the United States can result in penalties of hundreds of thousands of dollars.[58]

The first example of an electronic medical record transfer occurred in 1948 in Pennsylvania, when radiology images were sent 24 miles between two townships via telephone line. A few years later, Canadian radiologists built on that early application of telemedicine technology and created a teleradiology system for use in and around Montreal. In 1959, clinicians at the University of Nebraska transmitted neurological examinations across campus to medical students using two-way interactive television.


Online doctor consultation are rapidly gaining popularity these days as more health insurers offer telemedicine services to help cut costs. Studies have shown that virtual care may effectively used to treat common problems such as flu, acne, deer tick bites, sinus and urinary tract infections. Video doctor consultations can save patients a lot in time and convenience. 

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