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.
Telehealth allows the patient to be monitored between physician office visits which can improve patient health. Telehealth also allows patients to access expertise which is not available in their local area. This remote patient monitoring ability enables patients to stay at home longer and helps avoid unnecessary hospital time. In the long-term, this could potentially result in less burdening of the healthcare system and consumption of resources.
The Satellite African eHEalth vaLidation (SAHEL) demonstration project has shown how satellite broadband technology can be used to establish telemedicine in such areas. SAHEL was started in 2010 in Kenya and Senegal, providing self-contained, solar-powered internet terminals to rural villages for use by community nurses for collaboration with distant health centres for training, diagnosis and advice on local health issues
Although, traditional medicine relies on in-person care, the need and want for remote care has existed from the Roman and pre-Hippocratic periods in antiquity. The elderly and infirm who could not visit temples for medical care sent representatives to convey information on symptoms and bring home a diagnosis as well as treatment. In Africa, villagers would use smoke signals to warn neighbouring villages of disease outbreak. The beginnings of telehealth have existed through primitive forms of communication and technology.
All the guidelines and restrictions we’ve listed above are for billing telemedicine through traditional Medicare. Medicare Advantage plans under a commercial payer have complete flexibility to cover telemedicine however they want! This means, Advantage plans may cover telemedicine for your patient and not have any of those restrictions on what qualifies as an eligible originating site. Call the payer and ask what they’ll cover and what their telemedicine guidelines are.
^ Jump up to: a b c Hirani SP, Rixon L, Beynon M, Cartwright M, Cleanthous S, Selva A, Sanders C, Newman SP (May 2017). "Quantifying beliefs regarding telehealth: Development of the Whole Systems Demonstrator Service User Technology Acceptability Questionnaire". Journal of Telemedicine and Telecare. 23 (4): 460–469. doi:10.1177/1357633X16649531. PMID 27224997.
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.
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.
I'm a former scientist, using words and an audio recorder as my new research tools to untangle the health and food issues that matter most to consumers. I live in Brooklyn, N.Y., where I cook as much as possible. You can find me in the grocery aisle scrutinizing the fine print of every food item I put into my cart. Follow me on Twitter @juliacalderone.