Reimbursement for telemedicine services is often not as straightforward for traditional medical services. State telemedicine policy landscape is continuously shifting, affecting rules around reimbursement through state Medicaid programs and through private payers. Medicare does now reimburses for real-time telemedicine services, but places restrictions on the eligible healthcare providers, the location of the patient, the medical procedures that can be done, etc. The good news is, there is a shift towards more widespread reimbursement for telemedicine through all third-party payers, with less restrictions.
Brenda Stavish has practiced medicine since 1987 and provided virtual care since 2014. In 2006, she received her Master of Nursing from Seattle Pacific University. Over the course of her career, she has worked in women's health clinics, school districts, and primary/chronic care settings. She believes in patient care that brings together the health of the mind, body, and spirit, equally. In her spare time she enjoys travel, wine tasting and cooking.
Store-and-forward telemedicine works best for interprofessional medical services – where a provider needs to outsource diagnosis to a specialist. For instance, teleradiology relies heavily on store-and-forward technology to allow technicians and healthcare professionals at smaller hospitals to share patient x-rays for diagnosis by a specialist at another location. Asynchronous telemedicine is also commonly used for teledermatology and teleophthalmology.
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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.
While telemedicine is the older of the two phrases, telehealth is rapidly gaining acceptance, in large part because of the evolution of the healthcare landscape. The rise of consumer-directed healthcare and the shift from fee-based care to quality- and outcomes-based care has put more of an emphasis on health and wellness and care management. And in that atmosphere, telehealth fits the mold.
Informed consent is another issue – should the patient give informed consent to receive online care before it starts? Or will it be implied if it is care that can only practically be given over distance? When telehealth includes the possibility for technical problems such as transmission errors or security breaches or storage which impact on ability to communicate, it may be wise to obtain informed consent in person first, as well as having backup options for when technical issues occur. In person, a patient can see who is involved in their care (namely themselves and their clinician in a consult), but online there will be other involved such as the technology providers, therefore consent may need to involve disclosure of anyone involved in the transmission of the information and the security that will keep their information private, and any legal malpractice cases may need to involve all of those involved as opposed to what would usually just be the practitioner.
Doctor On Demand’s mission is to improve the world’s health through compassionate care and innovation. We believe that health is personal, and means so much more than treating illness. We’re proud of the care we've provided over the years and the relationships we’ve developed with our patients, as evidenced by the 5-star reviews we continually receive. People use our service to gain access to some of the best physicians and licensed therapists in the country, all whenever and wherever is most convenient. It’s as simple as opening the Doctor On Demand app on a smartphone or computer.
Teleradiology – Teleradiology is actually one of the earliest fields of telemedicine, beginning in the 1960s. Teleradiology solutions were developed to expand access to diagnosticians of x-rays. Smaller hospitals around the U.S. may not always have a radiologist on staff, or may not have access to one around the clock. That means patients coming into the ER, especially during off-hours, will have to wait for diagnosis. Teleradiology solutions now offer providers at one location to send a patient’s x-rays and records securely to a qualified radiologist at another location, and get a quick consult on the patient’s condition.
We are currently partnered with over 145 facilities across 25 states and have over 12,000 patient encounters annually. Average response time for calls is three minutes, and we use redundant staffing procedures to ensure a medical specialist will always be available to assist your patients. By working together, we can drastically improve patient outcomes and your community’s access to specialty medical services.
Today, there are telemedicine solutions that allow patients to seek a second opinion from the comforts of their home. Sending another physician copies of your medical images and more can easily be done by uploading the content to their secure website. This is very convenient for those who need a specialist but do not have the resources to drive thousands of miles away or wait a long time.
Obamacare—or the Affordable Care Act, as it is officially called—has been a catalyst for Teladoc’s recent growth surge. The law puts pressure on doctor’s offices, who are seeing more patients, as well as employers, who are looking to cut healthcare costs. As a result, telemedicine is becoming increasingly popular as a cheaper alternative to going to the emergency room. Insurance companies including Aetna (AET), Blue Shield of California and Oscar—which offers Obamacare plans on New York’s health exchange—have recently signed on with Teladoc, as have Home Depot (HD), T-Mobile (TMUS), pension giant CalPERS, and others.
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Healthcare providers currently earn their medical licenses for a specific state. This lets them practice medicine legally in that state, and only that state. This presents a problem for telemedicine, as the entire goal is to break down geographical barriers between a patient and provider. According to medical licensing regulations, a specialist based in Colorado would not be legally allowed to treat a patient in New Mexico.
Originally, health professionals developed this technology to reach remote patients living in the rural areas. But with time, medical staff and the U.S. government saw the big picture – the potential to reach urban populations with healthcare shortages, and to respond to medical emergencies by sharing medical consults and patient health records without delay. In the 1960s, heavy investments from the U.S. Government, including the Public Health Department, NASA, Department of Defense, and the Health and Human Sciences Department drove research and innovation in telemedicine. Sending cardiac rhythms during emergencies started at about this time. For instance, in Miami, the university medical center worked together with the fire rescue department by sending electro-cardiac rhythm signals over the voice radio channels from the rescue sites.
Nursing Call Center – This is a centralized office where nurses are the ones who are working. The nurses are responsible for answering telephone calls from patients. They should also make responses to faxes, electronic mails and letters from patients. Nursing call centers may also provide the callers with the basic information regarding their health, but they should not disclose the diagnosis made by the doctors on their conditions. They should not prescribe medications as well. They may just provide basic instructions when patients are having health complaints.
Remote Patient Monitoring involves the reporting, collection, transmission, and evaluation of patient health data through electronic devices such as wearables, mobile devices, smartphone apps, and internet-enabled computers. RPM technologies remind patients to weigh themselves and transmit the measurements to their physicians. Wearables and other electronic monitoring devices are being used to collect and transfer vital sign data including blood pressures, cardiac stats, oxygen levels, and respiratory rates.
Theoretically, the whole health system stands to benefit from telehealth. In a UK telehealth trial done in 2011, it was reported that the cost of health could be dramatically reduced with the use of telehealth monitoring. The usual cost of in vitro fertilisation (IVF) per cycle would be around $15,000, with telehealth it was reduced to $800 per patient. In Alaska the Federal Health Care Access Network which connects 3,000 healthcare providers to communities, engaged in 160,000 telehealth consultations from 2001 and saved the state $8.5 million in travel costs for just Medicaid patients. There are indications telehealth consumes fewer resources and requires fewer people to operate it with shorter training periods to implement initiatives.
Kaitlin Brasier has worked in primary care since 2012 and provided virtual care since 2013. She received her Doctor of Nursing Practice from the University of San Diego in 2012. In addition to providing virtual care, she works in a dermatology clinic. She has extensive experience in family practice nursing and women's health and has conducted research on childhood obesity prevention. She enjoys outdoor activities, including hiking, snowboarding and horseback riding. She also likes cooking, reading and travel.