Although this is more difficult to prove, big payers like Blue Cross Blue Shield and Aetna are benefiting from telemedicine too. Patients with substance abuse disorders who are treated using various telemedicine strategies provide cost-savings for payers. The cost per treatment is cheaper overall and offers cost savings across the board. As technology continues to improve, the cost savings will become more visible.
Remote monitoring, also known as self-monitoring or testing, enables medical professionals to monitor a patient remotely using various technological devices. This method is primarily used for managing chronic diseases or specific conditions, such as heart disease, diabetes mellitus, or asthma. These services can provide comparable health outcomes to traditional in-person patient encounters, supply greater satisfaction to patients, and may be cost-effective. Examples include home-based nocturnal dialysis and improved joint management.
As the population grows and ages, and medical advances are made which prolong life, demands increase on the healthcare system. Healthcare providers are also being asked to do more, with no increase in funding, or are encouraged to move to new models of funding and care such as patient-centered or outcomes based, rather than fee-for-service. Some specific health professions already have a shortage (i.e. Speech-language pathologists). When rural settings, lack of transport, lack of mobility (i.e. In the elderly or disabled), decreased funding or lack of staffing restrict access to care, telehealth can bridge the gap.
A radiologist specializes in using medical imaging techniques to both diagnose and treat disease. Their day-to-day responsibilities include working with other healthcare professionals, which can be extremely time-consuming. With telemedicine, radiologists can receive high-quality images and provide feedback on where ever they are. They no longer have to be in the same area as the provider sending over the images, which allows for a more streamlined process.
As of 2015, Teladoc was the only telemedicine company to be publicly traded on the New York Stock Exchange. In December 2016, the American Hospital Association exclusively endorsed Teladoc's telehealth technology platform. Teladoc now operates its full suite of services 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, by web, phone, or mobile app in 48 of the 50 states.
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.
Teledermatology allows dermatology consultations over a distance using audio, visual and data communication, and has been found to improve efficiency. Applications comprise health care management such as diagnoses, consultation and treatment as well as (continuing medical) education. The dermatologists Perednia and Brown were the first to coin the term "teledermatology" in 1995. In a scientific publication, they described the value of a teledermatologic service in a rural area underserved by dermatologists.
In addition to medical assistance, there are psychologists and psychiatrists you can schedule appointments with for online therapy. They treat depression, additions, social anxiety, trauma and workplace stress as well as social issues. Like the doctors, psychiatrists can prescribe medication. Doctor on Demand provides an online assessment to help you determine if you could benefit from telepsychology.
Effective September 1, 2018, the AlaskaCare Employee Health Plan has partnered with Teladoc® to provide you with a convenient and affordable way to receive quality medical care. Teladoc® lets you talk with experienced doctors by phone or video anytime, anywhere. All Teladoc® doctors are board-certified, state-licensed and can treat many health issues, including:
BayCareAnywhere allows you and your children two years and older instant access to a board-certified doctor from any place at any time, day or night. You can video chat with a doctor from the comfort of your own home for just $45 per visit. If the doctor determines that you need to be seen in-person at an urgent care center, you can print your patient summary and present it at any BayCare Urgent Care to receive a $45 discount off your visit.
When the American National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), began plans to send astronauts into space, the need for Telemedicine became clear. In order to monitor their astronauts in space, telemedicine capabilities were built into the spacecraft as well as the first spacesuits. Additionally, during this period, telehealth and Telemedicine were promoted in different countries especially the United States and Canada.
The telemedicine foundation is quickly being built. But what do patients think about telemedicine? Are they ready to try it? Recent studies show that a majority of patients are interested in using telehealth services, especially once they see how it works and the potential benefits for them. NTT Data found 74% of surveyed US patients were open to using telemedicine services, and were comfortable communicating with their doctors via technology. 67% said telemedicine at least somewhat increases their satisfaction with medical care.
At the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), TV celebrity Dr. Phil McGraw discussed the Doctor On Demand app, which connects any patient with a Board Certified physician or pediatrician via video chat in just two minutes. To use Doctor On Demand, patients download the app, give some background on their medical history, enter information on what’s wrong, and the app connects them to a health care provider from there. The service is currently available in 47 US states (excluding Arkansas, Louisiana, and Alaska) and can be accessed through the iPhone, iPad, Android, and on the web. Doctor on Demand’s hours of operation are 7 am to 11 pm local time (we're hoping it will one day become available 24 hours a day). A 15-minute session costs $40, which is a bit higher than the average co-pay many patients have for in-office visits, and the program currently does not accept health insurance. From the app demo at CES and from Kelly’s experience (more on that below), the Doctor On Demand app is quite sleek and the video chat is as easy to use as Facetime or Skype. Patients can find pharmacists and manage their prescriptions right from their smartphone – no more hard-to-read prescriptions or the potential to lose the prescription slip. Dr. Phil characterized the service as a “game-changer” and proposed that it could address 17 of the top 20 reasons people see a doctor (the flu, skin conditions, etc.) – these day-to-day conditions seem to be a key focus of Docotor on Demand, as opposed to more chronic conditions like full-time diabetes management. To learn more about Doctor on Demand’s policies and most frequently asked questions, please see this page.
When a healthcare service decides to provide telehealth to its patients, there are steps to consider, besides just whether the above resources are available. A needs assessment is the best way to start, which includes assessing the access the community currently has to the proposed specialists and care, whether the organisation currently has underutilized equipment which will make them useful to the area they are trying to service, and the hardships they are trying to improve by providing the access to their intended community (i.e. Travel time, costs, time off work). A service then needs to consider potential collaborators. Other services may exist in the area with similar goals who could be joined to provide a more holistic service, and/or they may already have telehealth resources available. The more services involved, the easier to spread the cost of IT, training, workflow changes and improve buy-in from clients. Services need to have the patience to wait for the accrued benefits of providing their telehealth service and cannot necessarily expect community-wide changes reflected straight away.
Telehealth includes such technologies as telephones, facsimile machines, electronic mail systems, and remote patient monitoring devices, which are used to collect and transmit patient data for monitoring and interpretation. While they do not meet the Medicaid definition of telemedicine they are often considered under the broad umbrella of telehealth services. Even though such technologies are not considered "telemedicine," they may nevertheless be covered and reimbursed as part of a Medicaid coverable service, such as laboratory service, x-ray service or physician services (under section 1905(a) of the Social Security Act).
Like most telemedicine tools, remote patient monitoring solutions make it easier for patients and physicians to maintain close communication. Many RPM solutions record and transmit a patient’s medical data automatically, generating a regular report for the physician. In some cases, this medical data is transmitted to a team of health monitoring professionals who are responsible for flagging any warning signs and sending them on to the physician, if needed.
Devices are also being used to track blood glucose levels and report high or low levels to patients and providers. In partnership with Stanford, Apple is testing whether its Apple Watch can be used to detect irregular heart patterns, and AliveCor’s KardiaBand allows Apple Watch wearers to perform electrocardiograms in 30 seconds that can easily be transmitted to physicians. Patients often go months without seeing their providers. RPM can allow for earlier detection of complications and identify patients who need to seek medical attention prior to in-person appointments. Moreover, chronic conditions can be more readily and efficiently managed resulting in higher quality care and outcomes as well as reduced costs.
In Australia, during January 2014, Melbourne tech startup Small World Social collaborated with the Australian Breastfeeding Association to create the first hands-free breastfeeding Google Glass application for new mothers. The application, named Google Glass Breastfeeding app trial, allows mothers to nurse their baby while viewing instructions about common breastfeeding issues (latching on, posture etc.) or call a lactation consultant via a secure Google Hangout, who can view the issue through the mother's Google Glass camera. The trial was successfully concluded in Melbourne in April 2014, and 100% of participants were breastfeeding confidently. Small World Social Breasfteeding Support Project.
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.
Dr. Creelman has practiced family medicine since 1984 and provided care with our team since 2006. He received his medical degree from the University of Washington and completed the San Bernardino Medical Center Family Practice Residency Program. As director of clinical operations, he works with the service delivery team to ensure that providers deliver the highest quality medical care and create positive patient experiences. In addition to his career in telemedicine, Dr. Creelman is a volunteer and a member of the board of directors of a local free clinic. He has also served on short-term overseas medical missions. He enjoys jogging and hiking, fine woodworking and crafting gourmet sushi with his family.