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.
Blue Sky Telehealth is committed to making specialty healthcare services more accessible to patients nationwide. We partner with hospitals to create a customized telehealth system that integrates with the facility’s existing processes and technology. Through our service, medical facilities can contact highly experienced medical specialists 24/7 to assist with patient care, diagnosis, and treatment. This saves hospitals the cost of keeping a medical specialist on-call full time and ensures that a qualified medical professional will always be available to tend to a patient with special care needs.
Telehealth and Provider Communication: A significant telehealth development is the increased communication via digital and telecommunications platforms among care providers. Care teams are enabled through telehealth technologies to more easily share information and collaborate in the treatment of their patients. PCPs are using telehealth platforms to consult with specialists and other providers to promote access for their patients in low provider availability areas.
“Telehealth is not a specific service, but a collection of means to enhance care and education delivery,” says the Center for Connected Health Policy (CCHP). CCHP further classify telehealth into four types of services, live-video conferencing, mobile health, remote patient monitoring, and store-and-forward. Most telehealth platforms provide one or more of these services, to a niche patient or consumer segment.
“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.”
Telehealth is defined as the use of electronic information and telecommunication technologies to support and promote long-distance clinical health care, patient and professional health-related education, public health and health administration. Technologies include video conferencing, the internet, store-and-forward imaging, streaming media, and terrestrial and wireless communications.
HIT is the generation and transmission of digital health data, often through an electronic health record. Generally, HIT is used for administrative functions (keeping track of patient's health history, sharing information between providers, etc.) while telemedicine is the delivery of an actual clinical service. HIT can facilitate telemedicine but it is not a requirement for delivering remote health care.
“It is less about the technology as it is about delivering medicine via a new medium,” Clement explained. “Luckily, the C-suite is accustomed now to teleconferencing, so they have a feel for the benefits, as well as some of the communication struggles that come with being audio-visual from remote locations. Much like teleconferencing, there are situations where telemedicine will fit and others where it will not: It can’t be looked upon as a silver bullet.”
With telemedicine, physicians in other locations can provide assistance by conducting video visits. In fact, when Hurricane Harvey occurred in 2017, healthcare professionals provided emergency and behavioral health video visits. This allowed practitioners to focus on high demand, complex cases in-person versus low level cases that can managed remotely.
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:
Flu is a common virus that affects all ages. Early diagnosis is best. With McLeod Telehealth you’ll receive quality healthcare online by a physician at anytime, from anywhere – on your laptop, phone, or tablet – without ever leaving home. See a doctor in minutes. No appointment necessary. Visits are private and secure. Sign Up is free. Find answers to our most Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ). Watch our video below for a demonstration of Telehealth.
Healthcare systems that are thinking about implementing telemedicine solutions should consult with experts in the industry. VSee, a leading telemedicine organization, suggests that practices do not rush into telemedicine without having the right equipment. They offer a variety of practical solutions for practices wanting to add telemedicine to their clinic and can make the integration more seamless.
The benefits posed by telehealth challenge the normative means of healthcare delivery set in both legislation and practice. Therefore, the growing prominence of telehealth is starting to underscore the need for updated regulations, guidelines and legislation which reflect the current and future trends of healthcare practices. Telehealth enables timely and flexible care to patients wherever they may be; although this is a benefit, it also poses threats to privacy, safety, medical licensing and reimbursement. When a clinician and patient are in different locations, it is difficult to determine which laws apply to the context. Once healthcare crosses borders different state bodies are involved in order to regulate and maintain the level of care that is warranted to the patient or telehealth consumer. As it stands, telehealth is complex with many grey areas when put into practice especially as it crosses borders. This effectively limits the potential benefits of telehealth.
In 2014, the government of Luxembourg, along with satellite operator, SES and NGOs, Archemed, Fondation Follereau, Friendship Luxembourg, German Doctors and Médecins Sans Frontières, established SATMED, a multilayer eHealth platform to improve public health in remote areas of emerging and developing countries, using the Emergency.lu disaster relief satellite platform and the Astra 2G TV satellite. SATMED was first deployed in response to a report in 2014 by German Doctors of poor communications in Sierra Leone hampering the fight against Ebola, and SATMED equipment arrived in the Serabu clinic in Sierra Leone in December 2014. In June 2015 SATMED was deployed at Maternité Hospital in Ahozonnoude, Benin to provide remote consultation and monitoring, and is the only effective communication link between Ahozonnoude, the capital and a third hospital in Allada, since land routes are often inaccessible due to flooding during the rainy season.
There are the typical discussions about balance between expanding vs. deepening what we currently do. Fair arguments on both sides of the discussion. The company tends to be conservative. Unclear decision making can lead to confusion across the company. Some decisions are made by corporate leaders who don't understand the day to day realties. Needs of the company have outgrown some functional leaders. These issues are...
One especially successful telemedicine project funded by the government was called the Space Technology Applied to Rural Papago Advanced Health Care (STARPAHC), and was a partnership between NASA and the Indian Health Services. The program funded remote medical services to Native Americans living on the Papago Reservation in Arizona and astronauts in space! Projects like STARPAHC drove research in medical engineering, and helped expand advancements in telemedicine. The next few decades saw continued innovations in telemedicine and wider research at universities, medical centers and research companies.
In the last decade, rapid advances in medicine and technology has resulted in the use of new terms. Policymakers, healthcare systems, advocacy groups, and vendors may unknowingly use terms incorrectly when discussing medicine and technology. This is especially true when it comes to the terms, telemedicine and telehealth. Although the words are often used interchangeably, there is certainly a difference between the two.
Thanks to telemedicine, physicians have the wonderful opportunity to connect with clients wherever they are. Patients who once could not see a physician due to access to care issues, can now do so almost seamlessly. However, many may wonder what is telemedicine’s most valuable applications? We’ll discover a few popular ways that telemedicine is used today.
There are a variety of payment models to fund telemedicine services. For example, some health systems offer telemedicine consultations as part of their regular care services, and payers charge patients based on insurance plans or government reimbursement schedules. In other cases, a patient's employer offers virtual care options as part of health insurance coverage premiums. Some people may opt to independently use a telemedicine vendor for a flat fee.
Thanks to telemedicine programs, hospitals, clinics and all other health facilities can ensure that patients receive the best care possible when that care is in their hometown or even hundred of miles away. So what is telehealth’s role in this? It can play a major role in addressing some of the upcoming challenges for healthcare in the United States. For instance, the population growth from 2008-2030 is set at 20%, that is 363 million people, which is predicted to bring about a shortage of healthcare professionals and the lack of specialists and medical facilities in rural areas. Additionally, there is an expected increase in chronic diseases such as diabetes, congestive heart failure, and obstructive pulmonary disease. Statistics indicates that almost 5 million patients are admitted to the intensive care unit that accounts for 20% of the hospital’s operating budgets. Telemedicine can reduce the impact of such challenges by connecting the right people with the correct resources and expertise in real-time.
The evolution and standardization of 5G has been a long process, but the technology could lead to major advancements in numerous areas like the smart home, media consumption, augmented reality, self-driving cars, telemedicine, and more. — Verge Staff, The Verge, "The road to 5G: the biggest news on next-gen mobile networks," 24 Feb. 2017 But now the clinic has expanded services to the surrounding community, offering primary care and specialty care services via telemedicine, including neurology, cardiology and diabetes education. — Maria Clark, NOLA.com, "Ochsner and NASA partner to open a health center at the Michoud Assembly Facility," 21 Mar. 2018 Such speeds are promoted as aiding the development of new technology in the fields of cloud robotics, telemedicine, connected cars and drones, augmented and virtual reality and more. — Ileana Najarro, Houston Chronicle, "Sprint to bring 5G mobile speeds to Houston this year," 27 Feb. 2018 Thus employees lack a strong financial incentive to seek out cheaper options, such as using a telemedicine service to diagnose pinkeye or having a hip replaced at an ambulatory surgery center instead of a hospital. — Joel Klein, WSJ, "The IRS Can Save American Health Care," 1 July 2018 The bill also has provisions meant to encourage telemedicine, and to add doctors to the state VA programs. — Erica Martinson, Anchorage Daily News, "What the new VA health care bill means for Alaska’s veterans," 24 May 2018 When patients report symptoms that are too complex to handle via telemedicine, Lemonaid doctors refund their money and urge them to see a doctor in person. — Rebecca Robbins, STAT, "A startup promised to make health care ‘refreshingly simple.’ Building the business has been anything but," 26 Apr. 2018 Folks can find a telemedicine service by contacting their insurance company (some have their own service) or local medical centers. — Houston Chronicle, "Hookah health news from your very own galaxy," 1 July 2018 The two topics at hand on this day: Whether to subsidize space exploration and whether to increase the use of telemedicine. — Kevin Kelleher, Fortune, "IBM's Jeopardy-Winning AI Is Now Ready to Debate You," 19 June 2018
Projections for the growth of the telehealth market are optimistic, and much of this optimism is predicated upon the increasing demand for remote medical care. According to a recent survey, nearly three-quarters of U.S. consumers say they would use telehealth. At present, several major companies along with a bevvy of startups are working to develop a leading presence in the field.
Theoretically, the whole health system stands to benefit from telehealth. In a UK telehealth trial done in 2011, it was reported that the cost of health could be dramatically reduced with the use of telehealth monitoring. The usual cost of in vitro fertilisation (IVF) per cycle would be around $15,000, with telehealth it was reduced to $800 per patient. In Alaska the Federal Health Care Access Network which connects 3,000 healthcare providers to communities, engaged in 160,000 telehealth consultations from 2001 and saved the state $8.5 million in travel costs for just Medicaid patients. There are indications telehealth consumes fewer resources and requires fewer people to operate it with shorter training periods to implement initiatives.
With many rural areas facing a shortage of specialists, telemedicine enables individual doctors to reach more patients. And the cost to patients for telehealth consultations is often lower than an in-office visit. By serving more patients in a shorter amount of time, healthcare organizations can cost-effectively grow their membership while increasing care quality and patient satisfaction.
Tim Panek has worked in primary care since 1999 and provided virtual care since 2011. He received his Master of Nursing from the University of Washington and has worked in many primary and urgent care settings in Washington State. He is an adjunct clinical faculty member at the University of Washington School of Nursing. He is also a high school soccer coach and enjoys golf, fly-fishing, skiing and hiking with his family.