Between the years 2000 and 2050, the number of people aged 60 years or older is expected to increase from 605 million to 2 billion. The rapidly increasing elderly patient population have become one of the main beneficiaries of telehealth. Companies like Comarch, American Well, and Global Med are building doctor video chat platforms targeted at the elderly.
Dr. Parker has practiced medicine since 1994 and provided virtual care since 2013. He received his medical degree from the Medical College of Wisconsin and went on to complete a family practice residency at St. Joseph's Hospital and St. Mary's Family Practice. In addition to his work in telemedicine, he is an Assistant Clinical Professor at the St. Louis University School of Medicine. Dr. Parker and his family have a strong commitment to organic, sustainable, and humane food preparation, raising and growing much of their own food. In his spare time, he is a trail runner, half-marathoner and amateur photographer.
Real-time telemedicine (also called “synchronous telemedicine”) is probably what most people first think of when they hear “telemedicine.” Real-time telemedicine requires a live interaction between either a health professional and patient, or between health professionals, using audio and video communication. Think videochat. While most real-time telemedicine software is much more sophisticated than a simple videochat platform, the basic goal is to both see and talk to the patient from afar. This type of telemedicine is meant to offer a virtual alternative to the in-person doctor’s visit.
Telemedicine regulations also determine the telemedicine reimbursement rules followed by Medicaid and private payers in that state. With the explosion of new telemedicine companies and patient demand for virtual care, the number of telemedicine-related legislation currently on the table is at an all-time high. Most U.S. states have passed new telemedicine regulations recently, or have a proposed bill awaiting decision.
With many rural areas facing a shortage of specialists, telemedicine enables individual doctors to reach more patients. And the cost to patients for telehealth consultations is often lower than an in-office visit. By serving more patients in a shorter amount of time, healthcare organizations can cost-effectively grow their membership while increasing care quality and patient satisfaction.
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.
Significantly, at the end of 2016 Congress unanimously approved legislation focused on emerging technology-enabled collaborative learning models. The new law directs HHS to assess these models and their ability to improve patient care and provider education, and to report its findings to Congress, along with recommendations for supporting their spread.
On July 7th, 2015, House representatives introduced the Medicare Telehealth Parity Act of 2015. If passed, the bill will expand what telemedicine services Medicare will cover and get rid of many limitations (like the requirements for what qualifies as an “originating site“). Legislation like this one could have a huge impact on coverage for remote patient monitoring and other telemedicine services delivered to the patient in their own home.
Today’s patient lives in an increasingly connected world and expects a different kind of care experience. Telemedicine engages patients by allowing them to connect with their doctor more frequently, in a convenient way. That means more questions asked and answered, a stronger doctor-patient relationship, and patients who feel empowered to manage their care.
State legislation determines the restrictions and often, the reimbursement rates for telemedicine services administered in that state. For instance, any state that has passed a telemedicine parity law has mandated that private payers in that state to reimburse telemedicine visits at the same rate as a comparable in-person visit. While a majority of states have now passed telemedicine parity laws, changing state legislation is often a time-consuming, unwieldy process and can have a huge impact on the telemedicine practices in that state.
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.
Thanks to telemedicine, physicians have the wonderful opportunity to connect with clients wherever they are. Patients who once could not see a physician due to access to care issues, can now do so almost seamlessly. However, many may wonder what is telemedicine’s most valuable applications? We’ll discover a few popular ways that telemedicine is used today.
But investors had other worries that weren't related to the broader market. Teladoc Health CFO and COO Mark Hirschhorn sold more than $700,000 of his stock right after the company's third-quarter earnings update. A short-seller posted an online article predicting that sales for one of Teladoc's fastest-growing businesses would soon fall. These two stories hit on the same day. As you might imagine, Teladoc stock tanked in response.
Referring to health information services, health care education, and health care services in a broad sense, the term telehealth is an all-encompassing one. In fact, telecare and telemedicine are generally covered within the broader scope of the term telehealth. Included in telehealth are health education services, remote monitoring of vital signs, ECG or blood pressure and remote doctor-patient consultations (telemedicine). Telehealth technology enables the remote diagnoses and evaluation of patients in addition to the ability to remote detection of fluctuations in the medical condition of the patient at home so that the medications or the specific therapy can be altered accordingly. It also allows for e-prescribe medications and remotely prescribed treatments.
Teleophthalmology is a branch of telemedicine that delivers eye care through digital medical equipment and telecommunications technology. Today, applications of teleophthalmology encompass access to eye specialists for patients in remote areas, ophthalmic disease screening, diagnosis and monitoring; as well as distant learning. Teleophthalmology may help reduce disparities by providing remote, low-cost screening tests such as diabetic retinopathy screening to low-income and uninsured patients. In Mizoram, India, a hilly area with poor roads, between 2011 till 2015, Tele-ophthalmology has provided care to over 10000 patients. These patients were examined by ophthalmic assistants locally but surgery was done on appointment after viewing the patient images online by Eye Surgeons in the hospital 6–12 hours away. Instead of an average 5 trips for say, a cataract procedure, only one was required for surgery alone as even post op care like stitch removal and glasses was done locally. There were huge cost savings in travel etc.
“Another distinction between telemedicine and D2C telehealth is that telemedicine consultations are often with medical specialists like cardiologists, dermatologists and pulmonologists,” Downey continued. “These often occur when the patient is in an underserved rural community and the specialist is in a large urban area. The distance makes it difficult to make and keep appointments otherwise. D2C telehealth, on the other hand, best deals with minor primary care issues over the phone. If deemed to be a more serious health concern, the patient is told to make an appointment with a specialist or to proceed to a hospital emergency room.”
But it wasn’t until the early 20th century that the general population started to these technologies, and imagine they could be applied to the field of medicine. In 1925, a cover illustration of the Science and Invention magazine featured an odd invention by Dr. Hugo Gernsback, called the “teledactyl.” The imagined tool would use spindly robot fingers and radio technology to examine a patient from afar, and show the doctor a video feed of the patient. While this invention never got past the concept stage, it predicted the popular telemedicine definition we think of today – a remote video consult between doctor and patient.
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.
Patient Exam Cameras – These cameras are used to examine the patient’s overall condition. The different types of patient exam cameras are handheld cameras, camcorders, gooseneck cameras and those which may be placed above the set-top units. Analog and digital cameras are available and the ones that should be used depend on the connection to the set-top unit.
Dr. Barnett attended the University of Southern California's Keck School of Medicine and completed his residency at Swedish Family Medicine. He has over 12 years of experience in practice and began working in Virtual Care over nine years ago. When Dr. Barnett is not providing Virtual Care, he works as a primary care provider for a local health system. He is fluent in Russian and proficient in Spanish. Outside of work, Dr. Barnett enjoys cooking, watching films, photography, and spending time with family.