All the numbers point to the exponential growth of telemedicine – in other words, it’s not going anywhere. The global telemedicine market was worth $17.8 billion in 2014, and is projected to grow well beyond that by 2020. ATA President Dr. Reed Tuckson estimated that approximately 800,000 virtual consultations will take place in the U.S. in 2015. And health systems, doctors, legislators, and patients are fueling that upward trend. A recent survey found an incredible90% of healthcare executives were in the process of developing or implementing a telemedicine program, and 84% said these program were important.  IHS projected the number of patients using telemedicine will rise from roughly 350,000 in 2013 to 7 million by 2018. And with this high demand for telemedicine, legislators are scrambling to pass bills that offer both support and needed regulations; in August 2015, Congress had 26 telemedicine-related bills waiting for decision.
“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.”
Emergency room and urgent care environments are known for long wait times, overcrowding and even staffing shortages. This leads to additional stress being added to not only the patient, but the staff too. With tele-triage, patients can arrive to an emergency department and be seen by an off-site physician using video conferencing software. The off-site physician can order tests or determine a treatment plan, which moves patients through the system faster. Cases that are more severe can be moved to the next level of patient care and others can be discharged.
Monitoring center links are used for one type of telemedicine – remote patient monitoring. This type of telemedicine link creates a digital connection between a patient’s house and a remote monitoring facility, so that a patient’s medical data can be measured at home and transmitted electronically to a distant medical monitoring facility. These links usually take the form of internet, SMS, or telephone connections. They’re most commonly used for monitoring of pulmonary, cardiac, or fetal medical data.
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.
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4. Your pharmacist will then tell you what medication you can have and how much you will have to pay for it. Based on your doctor’s recommendation, costs, and other personal factors, you can now decide what medication to use. It’s a good idea to consult with your doctor to determine what medication would be most effective for your health while staying within your budget.
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