How much and which telemedicine services private payers pay for again can vary widely by state. While the trend is toward broader coverage of telemedicine services for plan enrollees, private payers are still deciding on exactly what they will cover and what they won’t. 29 states and Washington, DC have passed telemedicine parity laws, which mandate that private payers in those states pay for telemedicine services at the same rate as in-person visits.
There’s a lot to be optimistic about telemedicine. A survey of healthcare executives found improving the quality of patient care was their top reason for implementing telemedicine and in another study, respondents said the top benefit was ability to provide round-the-clock care. About half of patients also reported that telemedicine increases their involvement in treatment decisions, getting them engaged in managing their care. And with a potential $6 billion per yearthat US employers could save by offering telemedicine to employees, telemedicine can have a huge impact reaching past the healthcare industry.
Mobile Telehealth Clinic – This involves using vehicles like van, trailer or any mobile unit to provide health care services for patients. The services are given by health care professionals. This is helpful to those who are living on areas far from the hospital. Some mobile units are equipped with medical technologies that are found in the hospital like mobile CT, MRI and TeleDentistry.
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.
The development of modern telemedicine began with the invention of the telecommunications infrastructure, including the telephone and telegraph. Early on, telemedicine technology was adopted for use in military situations during the Civil War, such as ordering medical supplies or medical consultations. Casualty and injury lists were also delivered via telegraph.
Sometimes the answer to the question “What is telemedicine?” is simply mobile medicine. It doesn’t require a heavy desktop computer or a lot of equipment. Activities that used to happen only in person are now easy to do on a smartphone. Modern consumers are accustomed to downloading apps and using their smartphones for simple transactions. The same is true for doctor visits. For example, with MDLIVE the patient simply opens the app and clicks to choose a doctor, with whom they can speak either by phone, instant message, or video.
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.
“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.”
Disease Management: A coordinated and continuous health process for the purposes of managing and improving the health status of a specifically defined population of patients over the complete course of the disease (e.g., DM, CHF). The targeted patient populations are high-cost, high-risk patients that have chronic conditions that require appropriate care in order to be maintained properly.
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.
While laws about prescriptions issued via telemedicine consultations are stringent in many states, the general trend indicates more states will allow these types of online prescriptions, the Center for Connected Health Policy reported. A sticking point is that prescriptions require the establishment of a doctor-patient relationship, and some states do not qualify virtual visits as a legitimate relationship.
There are several areas where telehealth medicine could make a significant impact. It could be used as a tool to remotely monitor patients who have recently been discharged. It may also help treat individuals with behavioral health issues who might normally avoid treatment due to its high cost, or to avoid any perceived public stigma.  The largest area where technology could advance medicine is in treating the chronically ill. These patients usually require many visits with several specialists who may practice at different and distant originating sites. To move telehealth forward, organizational leaders must present evidence to peers and patients that the technology offers value. In addition, care providers must work to transition patients from using telehealth services only for minor conditions (for headaches, colds, etc.), to accepting the technology as a viable replacement for costly physician office visits. Advocates for telehealth medicine must also develop quality controls, so that this potentially transformational tool can maximize its problem solving capabilities and its service effectiveness. To harness the benefits of telehealth technology, America’s brightest medical professionals (both experienced and up-and-coming) must make a concerted effort to incorporate the tool into their practices and make it a regular service offering. Today’s medical students — as they enter a world where telehealth is becoming more pervasive — can take part in what might be a monumental change in the way health professionals think about medical treatment.
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.
Need access to your prescription, but don't want to use an unreliable online resource? ExpressMedRefills.com provides safe, affordable, convenient access to fully certified U.S. doctors. These doctors can provide prescriptions, which can then be accessed locally through a legitimate pharmacy. No lines, no stalls, and no questionable online services.
Clinicians are conquering distance and providing access to patients who are not able to travel by providing appointments utilizing real-time video communication platforms. Video conferencing technology has been utilized to provide care for inmates, military personnel, and patients located in rural locations for some time. Also, suppliers of both care and financing such as Kaiser Permanente, the Defense Department, and the Department of Veterans Affairs have been exploiting telehealth modalities to increase access to healthcare services and promote better care quality. In another example, S.C. Department of Corrections and the Medical University of South Carolina are using video scopes and high-resolution cameras to diagnose and treat inmates remotely. They are also conducting virtual appointments using video/audio communication applications to reduce prisoner transportation costs and increase safety by keeping inmates in and providers out of correctional facilities.
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.
Video chatting has become ubiquitous with technology advances such as 4G internet speeds, low-cost smartphones and standardized phone operating systems. The advent of additional technology standards such as interoperable electronic health records (EHR), secure cloud storage (HIPAA), and wearable health trackers that can communicate with the smartphone has further incentivized consumers to jump on to the telehealth bandwagon. Perhaps the ultimate goal of telehealth is to bring continuous care to consumers while they are working or at home, years before they end up in a clinic.
The United States has 14 Telehealth Resource Centers, all funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) Office for the Advancement of Telehealth. These resource centers serve as a local hub of information and research about telehealth, usually with a focus on increasing healthcare access for underserved communities. Plus, the services they provide are generally free!
Several physicians and patients are finding it difficult to adapt to telemedicine, especially older adults. Physicians are very concerned about patient mismanagement. While advances in medicine have made it more efficient to use technology, there are times when system outages occur. There is also the potential for error as technology cannot always capture what the human touch can.
Doctor on Demand is currently available for patients in 15 states, including large states like California, Florida, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, and Texas. The company has more than 1,000 doctors available for video consultants one or two days a week, according to Bloomberg Businessweek. The company trains physicians on how to use the service, and covers other logistics like patient questionnaires and malpractice insurance.
Fundamentally, we tend to think of telemedicine as a way to overcome a serious distance barrier between a patient and a healthcare provider. This point-to-point connection supports a critical function. There are cases when a patient requires the care of a particular doctor at a particular time, and technology is the best way to facilitate that interaction.
Asynchronous or "Store and Forward": Transfer of data from one site to another through the use of a camera or similar device that records (stores) an image that is sent (forwarded) via telecommunication to another site for consultation. Asynchronous or "store and forward" applications would not be considered telemedicine but may be utilized to deliver services.
Two important areas of telerehabilitation research are (1) demonstrating equivalence of assessment and therapy to in-person assessment and therapy, and (2) building new data collection systems to digitize information that a therapist can use in practice. Ground-breaking research in telehaptics (the sense of touch) and virtual reality may broaden the scope of telerehabilitation practice, in the future.
Teladoc Health enjoys a killer advantage with its head start in telehealth. Around 40% of the largest companies in the world contract with Teladoc to provide virtual healthcare services to their employees. Over 35 of the biggest health plans in the U.S. have partnered with Teladoc. More than 290 hospitals and health systems have teamed up with the telehealth leader.
One of the biggest advantages of telehealth services is easy access to on-demand care. During a telemedicine consultation, a physician can inquire about symptoms, discuss treatment and determine whether a prescription is necessary. More importantly, for patients who don’t have a reliable means of transportation or who struggle with mobility challenges or disabilities that make traveling difficult, remote access can be a huge quality of life improvement. This is especially true for those living with chronic conditions for which frequent checkups are necessary. Telehealth services are also helping to fill healthcare gaps faced by rural communities across the United States — in areas where patients may have to drive for hours to get to the nearest hospital or specialist.
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.
Teladoc provides access to board-certified, state-licensed physicians 24 hours a day for non-emergency medical issues such as allergies, bronchitis, pink eye, sinus problems, and ear infection via audio-video technology for consultations regarding medical advice, diagnoses and basic prescription medications. The company bills itself as a telehealth provider due to its function of facilitating "remote house calls by primary care doctors". However, United States Department of Health and Human Services states that the term telehealth covers a broader range including "non-clinical services, such as provider training, administrative meetings, and continuing medical education" and that the term telemedicine means "remote clinical services". Its competitors include PlushCare, American Well, MDLIVE Inc., Doctor On Demand, and Carena.
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.
Telemedicine involves the use of electronic communications and software to provide clinical services to patients without an in-person visit. Telemedicine technology is frequently used for follow-up visits, management of chronic conditions, medication management, specialist consultation and a host of other clinical services that can be provided remotely via secure video and audio connections.
This service removes the need for impromptu walk-in clinic visits, lengthy waiting room stays, and long lines at the pharmacy. It also creates a safe space without judgment or the need to explain your condition to multiple strangers before you receive a prescription. Our professional and experienced team takes great care to make you feel comfortable and protected as your medical needs are met and your prescription is written, sent, and filled.
"The awareness piece is a big problem," admits Ian Tong, a physician and the chief medical officer at Doctor On Demand, an app that offers smartphone consultations for $75. Tong believes that part of the problem is the branding of the term "telemedicine," which isn't particularly descriptive, so he's opting to use the term "video visits" instead when he talks to patients about it.
Doctor On Demand operates subject to state laws. As of August 2017, Doctor On Demand offers behavioral healthcare in all states where Mental Health services are available to Doctor On Demand’s patient population at large, and Medical care in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Doctor On Demand is not intended to replace an annual, in-person visit with a primary care physician.** Doctor On Demand physicians do not prescribe Controlled Substances, and may elect not to treat or prescribe other medications based on what is clinically appropriate.