Medicare pays for telemedicine services under certain circumstances. Primarily, Medicare covers live telemedicine services, or virtual visits delivered via interactive audio and video (think videochat). The goal is to cover medical services delivered virtually where an in-person visit may be difficult for the patient or provider. Store-and-forward telemedicine services are only covered in Hawaii and Alaska at this time.
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Teladoc is the oldest and largest telemedicine company in United States. It was launched in 2002 in Dallas, Texas by Dr. Byron Brooks, a former NASA flight surgeon, and serial entrepreneur Michael Gorton.[7] Teladoc launched nationally in 2005 at the Consumer Directed Health Care Conference, in Chicago, Illinois.[8] By the end of 2007, it had attracted about 1 million members, including large employers who provided it to their employees as a health benefit. Jason Gorevic was named CEO in 2009 and currently holds the role and sits on the company's board of directors.[9]

Significant hurdles for more wide-spread telehealth adoption are the limits on reimbursement and the inconsistent payer landscape. In a KLAS-CHIME study from October of last year, over 50 percent of respondents from 104 health care organizations indicated that limits on reimbursement constrict their ability to expand telehealth services for patients. Medicare and Medicaid offer disparate degrees of flexibility while private payers also represent varying levels of funding.
As technology developed and wired communication became increasingly commonplace, the ideas surrounding telehealth began emerging. The earliest telehealth encounter can be traced to Alexander Graham Bell in 1876, when he used his early telephone as a means of getting help from his assistant Mr. Watson after he spilt acid on his trousers. Another instance of early telehealth, specifically telemedicine was reported in The Lancet in 1879. An anonymous writer described a case where a doctor successfully diagnosed a child over the telephone in the middle of the night.[5] This Lancet issue, also further discussed the potential of Remote Patient Care in order to avoid unnecessary house visits, which were part of routine health care during the 1800s.[5][7] Other instances of telehealth during this period came from the American Civil War, during which telegraphs were used to deliver mortality lists and medical care to soldiers.[7]
To keep up with the rate that technology is progressing, the telemedicine will of course need to overcome other administrative barriers, such as restrictions placed on telemedicine practice by state legislation, state-specific licensing requirements by medical boards, and the reimbursement policies that affect whether doctors are reimbursed by payers and patients are not out-of-pocket. But with the projection that telemedicine will be a $36.3 billion industry by 2020, over 50 telehealth-related bills in the 113th Congress, and 75% of surveyed patients reporting interest in telemedicine, telemedicine’s future is bright and demand is likely to overcome these barriers.
Telemedicine services can range widely by specialty. A surgeon might use telemedicine to do post-operation check-ins with patients, to make sure their wound is not infected. A gynecologist might use a live telemedicine solution to provide birth control counseling. An endocrinologist may do live videochats with patients to discuss recent lab results and answer questions.
Medicare: Yes... in certain circumstances.  Many “telehealth” services, such as remote radiology, pathology and some cardiology, are covered simply as "physician services."  For traditional fee-for-service beneficiaries living in rural areas, Medicare covers physician services using videoconferencing and remote patient monitoring. The ~14 million beneficiaries in Medicare Advantage (managed care) plans, have complete flexibility in using telehealth, as long as their provider offers the service.  ATA is pushing the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid, and Congress to removing the arbitrary restrictions that limit telehealth coverage, so that all beneficiaries can get this great benefit.  The ATA Wiki has details explaining coverage details in Medicare. 
More accessible, convenient healthcare for patients is the driving force behind the telemedicine field. Telemedicine was originally developed in the U.S. as a way to address care shortages, especially in remote rural areas. Now telemedicine is used around the world, whether it’s to provide basic healthcare in third-world countries or allow an elderly patient with mobility issues to see the doctor from home. Telemedicine has the power not only to break down typical geographical barriers to care access, but to make the entire healthcare delivery model more convenient to patients.
Visit Teladoc and set up an account using the information provided on your GuideStone/Highmark BCBS ID card. You'll also complete a medical history so that it's easy for the Teladoc physician to access when providing treatment. Or you can set up your account and provide your medical history by calling 1-800-TELADOC (1-800-835-2362). If they ask for your employer's name, be sure to tell them your coverage is provided through GuideStone/Highmark BCBS and provide the identification information from your ID card. Learn more about How to Register.
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.
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.
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.”
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.[2][23] 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.[41] 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.[2][23]

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.[2][23] 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.[41] 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.[2][23]
Cheryl Graf has worked in primary care since 1996 and provided virtual care since 2014. She received her Master of Nursing from Pacific Lutheran University. She also works for a local health system and provides temporary support for emergency departments near her home. Her experience includes emergency services, family practice, pediatrics and urgent care. Additionally, she has created and developed training materials for the Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner programs in Washington State. In her spare time, she enjoys golf, gardening and family time.

Did you know that there are different types of telemedicine? That’s right, there are a few different ways that healthcare systems can use telemedicine to assist patients. As discussed in previous articles, telemedicine is the method of using telecommunications to connect patients and providers over a distance. Today, there are three different types of telemedicine used and it includes the following:


Most stock quote data provided by BATS. Market indices are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer. Morningstar: © Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Factset: FactSet Research Systems Inc. . All rights reserved. Chicago Mercantile Association: Certain market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved. Dow Jones: The Dow Jones branded indices are proprietary to and are calculated, distributed and marketed by DJI Opco, a subsidiary of S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC and have been licensed for use to S&P Opco, LLC and CNN. Standard & Poor's and S&P are registered trademarks of Standard & Poor's Financial Services LLC and Dow Jones is a registered trademark of Dow Jones Trademark Holdings LLC. All content of the Dow Jones branded indices © S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC and/or its affiliates.
As telehealth continues to replace traditional health care, it is going to inherit some of its challenges. These include increased cost of care due to multiple vendors, complex care pathways, and government policies. However, the question that remains to be answered is will this advanced technology that we call telehealth, be able to redefine the quality, equity and affordability of healthcare throughout the world.
This expectation for more convenient care, combined with the unavailability of many overburdened medical professionals (especially primary care providers) have led to the rise of telemedicine companies. Many offer patients 24/7 access to medical care with an on-call doctor contracted by that company. Others offer hospitals and larger health centers access to extra clinical staff and specialists, for outsourcing of special cases (common model among teleradiology companies). Still others provide a telemedicine platform for physicians to use to offer virtual visits with their own patients. Increasingly, telemedicine is becoming a way to give medical practices an edge in a competitive healthcare landscape where it’s difficult to stay independent or maintain a healthy bottom line.
A native of rural Washington, Katie Gieseke has practiced medicine since 2009, and provided virtual care since 2015. She received her undergraduate degree in Nursing from the University of Portland and received her Doctorate of Nursing Practice and Family Nurse Practitioner certification from the University of Washington. Her nursing career ranges from experience in the emergency department to home health assessments. During her time in the emergency department, she became interested in improving the effectiveness, efficiency and continuity of the health care system. She has a strong interest in illness prevention and look forward to having the time to spend with patients providing education on maintaining wellness, disease prevention and motivating patients to take control of their health.
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