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.
Remote monitoring, also known as self-monitoring or testing, enables medical professionals to monitor a patient remotely using various technological devices. This method is primarily used for managing chronic diseases or specific conditions, such as heart disease, diabetes mellitus, or asthma. These services can provide comparable health outcomes to traditional in-person patient encounters, supply greater satisfaction to patients, and may be cost-effective. Examples include home-based nocturnal dialysis and improved joint management.
Although telemedicine itself permits physicians to treat patients nationwide, there are restrictions on who can provide services across state lines. States with large rural areas with limited access to care could greatly benefit from this, but varying state regulations make the process challenging. Physicians who do want to practice medicine across states may have to obtain a full medical license in all states. Not only is the process time consuming, but it is also expensive for physicians to do.
With the interrelated fields of mobile health, digital health, health IT, telemedicine all constantly changing with new developments, it’s sometimes difficult to pin down a definition for these terms. In much of the healthcare industry, the terms “telehealth” and “telemedicine” are often used interchangeably. In fact, even the ATA considers them to be interchangeable terms. This isn’t surprising since the telehealth and telemedicine definitions encompass very similar services, including: medical education, e-health patient monitoring, patient consultation via video conferencing, health wireless applications, transmission of image medical reports, and many more.
Telemedicine is an important and quickly growing component of healthcare delievery in the United States. There are currently about 200 telemedicine networks, with 3,500 service sites in the US. In 2011 alone the Veterans Health Administration delivered over 300,000 remote consultations using telemedicine. More than half of all U.S. hospitals now use some form of telemedicine.
Once a medical history and symptoms are detailed, the patient is either then immediately connected to a clinician via video conferencing technology or gets an interactive call back from a physician or nurse. The provider that the patient speaks to may not be the patient's primary care physician, but instead a contracted clinician at a telemedicine network.
One of the key advantages of telemedicine is the ability to provide healthcare to a patient, no matter the patient or provider’s location. However, since providers are licensed to practice in a specific state, they are only legally allowed to offer telemedicine services to patients in the same state. Currently, 49 state medical boards require physicians practicing telemedicine to be licensed in the state where the patient is located.
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:
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.
Telehealth allows multiple, different disciplines to merge and deliver a much more uniform level of care using the efficiency and accessibility of everyday technology. As telehealth proliferates mainstream healthcare and challenges notions of traditional healthcare delivery, different populations are starting to experience better quality, access and personalised care in their lives.
Like most technology solutions, telemedicine platforms usually require some training and equipment purchases. How much is really dependent on the solution – a more extensive inpatient telemedicine platform that will be used between primary doctors and consulting specialist may require more training and the purchase of a telemedicine cart and various mobile health devices. A secure videochat app like eVisit, requires much less staff training and usually only requires purchase of a webcam.
Telehealth is part of APTA's Frontiers in Research, Science, and Technology (FiRST) Council. FiRST grew out of identification of high priority areas to advance science and innovation that our profession needs to understand and incorporate into our practice, education, and research. FiRST is intended to serve as a community for interested stakeholders. Ideas generated by the council may be implemented by participants' stakeholder groups (sections, academies, external groups, APTA, etc) at the discretion of each entity's governing body.
In its mHealth Roadmap, the Health Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) muddies the waters a bit. It uses the Health and Human Services Definition for telehealth — “the use of electronic information and telecommunications technologies to support remote clinical healthcare, patient and professional health-related education, public health and health administration” — then goes on to say that “telemedicine usage ranges from synchronous video chat between a patient and a doctor, to conferencing between doctors, to conferencing between doctors and allied health professionals (e.g., nutritionists, physical therapists), to providing live or recorded presentations to groups of patients who are geographically separated.”
In an increasingly crowded field, the start-up is undercutting the competition with its $40 fee. American Well, which provides its technology to WellPoint , charges $49 for online visits, so does MDLive. Better offers access to a personal health assistant for $49 a month, and HealthTap recently announced it will facilitate medical consultations for $99 a month. Jackson also says that his company charges corporations $40 when the service is used, as opposed to the industry practice of charging per employee per month.
While telemedicine has shown to be a game changer in the field of medicine, there are still a number of barriers to overcome. Physicians face challenges regarding how they’ll be paid and where they can practice, while patients voice security concerns. Once these barriers are removed, we can anticipate greater access to care and improved patient outcomes.
Doctor On Demand’s board-certified physicians are available on-demand and by appointment. The typical average wait time to connect with a doctor is under 3 minutes. Doctor On Demand psychologists are available by appointment between the hours of 7am and 10pm and have extensive experience coaching patients through natural disasters and traumatic events.
In addition to the parity laws, some states require providers to obtain patient consent before using telehealth services. Failure to obtain patient consent may result in physicians not being paid. Providers also have to be aware that while some states do not legally require consent, if they bill telemedicine through Medicaid, they will need written consent.
Telemedicine for intensive care unit (ICU) rounds: Telemedicine is also being used in some trauma ICUs to reduce the spread of infections. Rounds are usually conducted at hospitals across the country by a team of approximately ten or more people to include attending physicians, fellows, residents and other clinicians. This group usually moves from bed to bed in a unit discussing each patient. This aids in the transition of care for patients from the night shift to the morning shift, but also serves as an educational experience for new residents to the team. A new approach features the team conducting rounds from a conference room using a video-conferencing system. The trauma attending, residents, fellows, nurses, nurse practitioners, and pharmacists are able to watch a live video stream from the patient's bedside. They can see the vital signs on the monitor, view the settings on the respiratory ventilator, and/or view the patient's wounds. Video-conferencing allows the remote viewers two-way communication with clinicians at the bedside.
Once the need for a Telehealth service is established, delivery can come within four distinct domains. They are live video (synchronous), store-and-forward (asynchronous), remote patient monitoring, and mobile health. Live video involves a real-time two-way interaction, such as patient/caregiver-provider or provider-provider, over a digital (i.e. broadband) connection. This often is used to substitute a face to face meeting such as consults, and saves time and cost in travel. Store-and-forward is when data is collected, recorded, and then sent on to a provider. For example, a patient's' digital health history file including x-rays and notes, being securely transmitted electronically to evaluate the current case. Remote patient monitoring includes patients' medical and health data being collected and transferred to a provider elsewhere who can continue to monitor the data and any changes that may occur. This may best suit cases that require ongoing care such as rehabilitation, chronic care, or elderly clients trying to stay in the community in their own homes as opposed to a care facility. Mobile health includes any health information, such as education, monitoring and care, that is present on and supported by mobile communication devices such as cell phones or tablet computers. This might include an application, or text messaging services like appointment reminders or public health warning systems.
Devices are also being used to track blood glucose levels and report high or low levels to patients and providers. In partnership with Stanford, Apple is testing whether its Apple Watch can be used to detect irregular heart patterns, and AliveCor’s KardiaBand allows Apple Watch wearers to perform electrocardiograms in 30 seconds that can easily be transmitted to physicians. Patients often go months without seeing their providers. RPM can allow for earlier detection of complications and identify patients who need to seek medical attention prior to in-person appointments. Moreover, chronic conditions can be more readily and efficiently managed resulting in higher quality care and outcomes as well as reduced costs.
Originally, health professionals developed this technology to reach remote patients living in the rural areas. But with time, medical staff and the U.S. government saw the big picture – the potential to reach urban populations with healthcare shortages, and to respond to medical emergencies by sharing medical consults and patient health records without delay. In the 1960s, heavy investments from the U.S. Government, including the Public Health Department, NASA, Department of Defense, and the Health and Human Sciences Department drove research and innovation in telemedicine. Sending cardiac rhythms during emergencies started at about this time. For instance, in Miami, the university medical center worked together with the fire rescue department by sending electro-cardiac rhythm signals over the voice radio channels from the rescue sites.
Teleophthalmology is a branch of telemedicine that delivers eye care through digital medical equipment and telecommunications technology. Today, applications of teleophthalmology encompass access to eye specialists for patients in remote areas, ophthalmic disease screening, diagnosis and monitoring; as well as distant learning. Teleophthalmology may help reduce disparities by providing remote, low-cost screening tests such as diabetic retinopathy screening to low-income and uninsured patients. In Mizoram, India, a hilly area with poor roads, between 2011 till 2015, Tele-ophthalmology has provided care to over 10000 patients. These patients were examined by ophthalmic assistants locally but surgery was done on appointment after viewing the patient images online by Eye Surgeons in the hospital 6–12 hours away. Instead of an average 5 trips for say, a cataract procedure, only one was required for surgery alone as even post op care like stitch removal and glasses was done locally. There were huge cost savings in travel etc.
To date, there are 33 states plus the District of Columbia, that have parity laws that require private payer reimbursement for telemedicine services. All states with parity laws require private payers to pay for video-conferencing. To date, only a few states require reimbursement for store and forward telemedicine. Organizations should also understand that payment for telemedicine services may not equal that of onsite services.
“Formally defined, telemedicine is the use of medical information exchanged from one site to another via electronic communications to improve a patient’s clinical health status,” the ATA writes. “Telemedicine includes a growing variety of applications and services using two-way video, e-mail, smart phones, wireless tools and other forms of telecommunications technology.”
If you’re not ready to make the jump to do a televisit with Statcare’s doctor on call, you can still visit one of our urgent care locations to get the same excellent care. We have locations in Brooklyn, Hicksville, The Bronx and Astoria where we welcome walk-ins seven days a week, 365 days a year. Statcare urgent care is the only walk-in urgent care to have earned The Joint Commission Gold Seal of Approval in 2012 and have worked to maintain the excellence you’ve come to expect over the years. Read more about our locations, our services and how you can contact us here.