Between the years 2000 and 2050, the number of people aged 60 years or older is expected to increase from 605 million to 2 billion. The rapidly increasing elderly patient population have become one of the main beneficiaries of telehealth. Companies like Comarch, American Well, and Global Med are building doctor video chat platforms targeted at the elderly.
An example of these limitations include the current American reimbursement infrastructure, where Medicare will reimburse for telehealth services only when a patient is living in an area where specialists are in shortage, or in particular rural counties. The area is defined by whether it is a medical facility as opposed to a patient's' home. The site that the practitioner is in, however, is unrestricted. Medicare will only reimburse live video (synchronous) type services, not store-and-forward, mhealth or remote patient monitoring (if it does not involve live-video). Some insurers currently will reimburse telehealth, but not all yet. So providers and patients must go to the extra effort of finding the correct insurers before continuing. Again in America, states generally tend to require that clinicians are licensed to practice in the surgery' state, therefore they can only provide their service if licensed in an area that they do not live in themselves.
ISDN Basic Rate Interface (BRI): A type of ISDN interface that provides 128K of bandwith tht is used for videoconferencing as well as simultaneous data and voice services. A multiplexer can be used to link together multiple BRI lines in order for higher bandwidth levels to be achieved. For example, one popular option among telehealth networks is combining 3 BRI lines in order for video-conferencing to be provided with 384K of bandwidth. BRI services are unavailable in some rural areas. Before videoconferencing equipment is order for using this kind of service, one needs to check with their telecommunications provider to see if BRI services are available.
The popularity of real-time telemedicine solutions has increased rapidly in the past few years, as companies like Teladoc and DoctoronDemand have offered an affordable, easy way for patients to connect with a doctor from anywhere and get immediate treatment. Doctors are also starting to adopt real-time telemedicine solutions to give their patients the added convenience of virtual doctor visits, improve their care outcomes, boost work-life balance, and reap the many other benefits. With simply a compatible device, internet connection, microphone, and webcam – a patient can now get medical treatment. That’s the beauty of real-time telemedicine.
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.
Several decades later, in the 1950’s, a few hospital systems and university-based medical centers experimenting with how to put concept of telemedicine into practice. Medical staff at two different health centers in Pennsylvania about 24 miles apart transmitted radiologic images via telephone. In 1950’s, a Canadian doctor built upon this technology into a Teleradiology system that was used in and around Montreal. Then, in 1959, Doctors at the University of Nebraska were able to transmit neurological examinations to medical students across campus via a two-way interactive television. By 1964, they had built a telemedicine link that allowed them to provide health services at Norfolk State Hospital, 112 miles away from campus.
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.
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.
This term has a narrower scope than that of telehealth. It refers more specifically to education over a distance and the provision of health care services through the use of telecommunications technology. Telemedicine refers to the use of information technologies and electronic communications to provide remote clinical services to patients. The digital transmission of medical imaging, remote medical diagnosis and evaluations, and video consultations with specialists are all examples of telemedicine.
The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services defines telehealth as the use of electronic information and telecommunications technologies to support and promote long-distance clinical health care, patient and professional health-related education, public health and health administration. Technologies include videoconferencing, the internet, store-and-forward imaging, streaming media, and terrestrial and wireless communications.
In developed countries, health promotion efforts using telehealth have been met with some success. The Australian hands-free breastfeeding Google Glass application reported promising results in 2014. This application made in collaboration with the Australian Breastfeeding Association and a tech startup called Small World Social, helped new mothers learn how to breastfeed. Breastfeeding is beneficial to infant health and maternal health and is recommended by the World Health Organisation and health organisations all over the world. Widespread breastfeeding can prevent 820,000 infant deaths globally but the practice is often stopped prematurely or intents to do are disrupted due to lack of social support, know-how or other factors. This application gave mother's hands-free information on breastfeeding, instructions on how to breastfeed and also had an option to call a lactation consultant over Google Hangout. When the trial ended, all participants were reported to be confident in breastfeeding.
Bao Ng has worked in primary care since 2013 and provided virtual care since 2013. Obtaining her Doctor of Nursing Practice from the University of Washington, she began working in telemedicine shortly thereafter. Her medical interests include international health, and maternal and child health. She works at an international community health clinic near her home, and is fluent in Vietnamese and proficient in conversational Cantonese. She volunteers as a caregiver in her church nursery and is an executive board member for a local pediatric and behavioral health clinic. Outside of work, she enjoys spending time with her husband and children and exploring new cuisines.
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.”
These emerging models produce virtual communities of learning and practice that embrace all members of the healthcare team. They are the latest point on the telemedicine continuum that began with the point-to-point connection achieved by Einthoven's pioneering electrocardiogram. Building out the connection established under telemedicine into an ever-expanding knowledge-sharing network can create new potential to improve health and save lives.
^ Kontaxakis, George; Visvikis, Dimitris; Ohl, Roland; Sachpazidis, Ilias; Suarez, Juan; Selby, Peter; Cheze-Le Rest, Catherine; Santos, Andres; Ortega, Fernando; Diaz, Javier; Pan, Leyun; Strauss, Ludwig; Dimitrakopoulou-Strauss, Antonia; Sakas, Georgios; Pozo, Miguel (2006). "Integrated telemedicine applications and services for oncological positron emission tomography". Oncology Reports. doi:10.3892/or.15.4.1091.
Funding Opportunities: Telehealth can be an important tool for improving access to quality health care, especially for underserved and economically or medically vulnerable populations. Applicants who propose a telehealth component to their work plan are encouraged to reach out to one of the 12 HRSA-supported Regional Telehealth Resource Centers , which provide technical assistance to organizations and individuals who are actively providing or interested in providing telehealth services to rural and/or underserved communities.
Whether on vacation with your kids, away from your home base for business, or in between family doctors, the use of online medical care opens windows and doors to around the clock consultations and medical services. The internet has made it possible for people in rural towns to reach city doctors, for men and women on the road to access much needed prescriptions, and for busy parents to get medical help without packing the kids up and hauling them down to the nearest clinic.
“In addition, clinical outcomes should be defined and data capture and review capabilities should be implemented to ensure clinical standards of care are followed, to evaluate clinical outcomes and patient and provider satisfaction, and to continually look for opportunities to improve the virtual process,” Sokolovich said. “In addition, having a dedicated IT support system in place for telehealth providers across the system is key to long-term success and removes the concern for equipment failure and connectivity issues that may result in virtual visit challenges.”
In the NICU/ICU, telemedicine can be used in a variety of ways. One approach is by using HD webcams to see the baby from different angles. High-risk infants can be seen by a specialist at another hospital by simply sharing the video within seconds. This decreases the need for infants to be transferred to another hospital, which is costly and time consuming.
Telemedicine was originally created as a way to treat patients who were located in remote places, far away from local health facilities or in areas of with shortages of medical professionals. While telemedicine is still used today to address these problems, it’s increasingly becoming a tool for convenient medical care. Today’s connected patient wants to waste less time in the waiting room at the doctor, and get immediate care for minor but urgent conditions when they need it.
Soon after Alexander Graham Bell patented the telephone in 1876, ideas of using a telephone to communicate with physicians started appearing in the medical literature. However, telemedicine was truly born in the 1950s, when radiologic images were successfully transferred by telephone between West Chester and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. In the late 1960s and 1970s, telemedicine developed with support from National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), U.S. Public Health Service, Department of Defense and other federal agencies.
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. The timing of Bird's clinic more or less coincided with NASA's foray into telemedicine through the use of physiologic monitors for astronauts. Other pioneering programs in telemedicine were designed to deliver healthcare services to people in rural settings. 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.
Those in the healthcare industry recognize that medication management is a big deal, especially among seniors. Older adults are more likely to forget to take their medications, which is where telemedicine comes in. Providers and other healthcare professionals can use telemedicine technology to monitor when and if their patients took their medicine. As a result, this leads to fewer hospital readmissions and enhances medication compliance.
Ms. Officer described a study of Nemours' specialist telehealth services. The pediatric health system saved about $24 per orthopedic patient using telemedicine. On average, patients and their families traveled 85 miles round-trip for in-person services; with telemedicine, they received care without leaving their homes. "It's cost-saving, and time-saving, for patients and families," said Ms. Officer. "Telemedicine is here to stay."
This type of telemedicine allows providers to share patient information with a practitioner in another location. For example, a primary care physician can now share patient records and medical data with a specialist without being in the same room. Systems can transmit information across vast distances and different systems (sometimes) so one physician can know what another has already done. This leads to less duplicate testing and fewer instances of poor medication management.
ECGs, or electrocardiographs, can be transmitted using telephone and wireless. Willem Einthoven, the inventor of the ECG, actually did tests with transmission of ECG via telephone lines. This was because the hospital did not allow him to move patients outside the hospital to his laboratory for testing of his new device. In 1906 Einthoven came up with a way to transmit the data from the hospital directly to his lab. See above reference-General health care delivery. Remotely treating ventricular fibrillation Medphone Corporation, 1989
States may submit a coverage SPA to better describe the telemedicine services they choose to cover, such as which providers/practitioners are; where it is provided; how it is provided, etc. In this case, and in order to avoid unnecessary SPA submissions, it is recommended that a brief description of the framework of telemedicine be placed in an introductory section of the State Plan and then a reference made to telemedicine coverage in the applicable benefit sections of the State Plan. For example, in the physician section it might say that dermatology services can be delivered via telemedicine provided all state requirements related to telemedicine as described in the state plan are otherwise met.
Telerehabilitation (or e-rehabilitation) is the delivery of rehabilitation services over telecommunication networks and the Internet. Most types of services fall into two categories: clinical assessment (the patient's functional abilities in his or her environment), and clinical therapy. Some fields of rehabilitation practice that have explored telerehabilitation are: neuropsychology, speech-language pathology, audiology, occupational therapy, and physical therapy. Telerehabilitation can deliver therapy to people who cannot travel to a clinic because the patient has a disability or because of travel time. Telerehabilitation also allows experts in rehabilitation to engage in a clinical consultation at a distance.
Any technology that is used to store, share, or analyze health information can be referred to as “health information technology” or healthIT. This broad category includes things like practice management systems and online patient portals. Telehealth, or telemedicine, is a group of technologies within health IT that is used to provide clinical care, health information, or health education at a distance. Telehealth technology includes both software and hardware.
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.
Dr. Creelman has practiced family medicine since 1984 and provided care with our team since 2006. He received his medical degree from the University of Washington and completed the San Bernardino Medical Center Family Practice Residency Program. As director of clinical operations, he works with the service delivery team to ensure that providers deliver the highest quality medical care and create positive patient experiences. In addition to his career in telemedicine, Dr. Creelman is a volunteer and a member of the board of directors of a local free clinic. He has also served on short-term overseas medical missions. He enjoys jogging and hiking, fine woodworking and crafting gourmet sushi with his family.