Erin Aas has worked in primary care since 2005 and provided virtual care since 2012. Since receiving his Master of Nursing from Seattle University, he has provided comprehensive primary healthcare and promoted cultural competency in a variety of community health settings. In addition to his full-time work in virtual care, he works shifts in a local Emergency Department. He is proficient in conversational and medical Spanish. Outside of work, he is an accomplished guitarist, choral composer and Ironman triathlete.
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.
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. Teladoc launched nationally in 2005 at the Consumer Directed Health Care Conference, in Chicago, Illinois. 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.
Tim Panek has worked in primary care since 1999 and provided virtual care since 2011. He received his Master of Nursing from the University of Washington and has worked in many primary and urgent care settings in Washington State. He is an adjunct clinical faculty member at the University of Washington School of Nursing. He is also a high school soccer coach and enjoys golf, fly-fishing, skiing and hiking with his family.
Through its agreements with insurers, Doctor On Demand stipulates what kinds of conditions its video consultations can cover, and which ailments and maladies require immediate medical attention. Increasingly, customers are taking advantage of the company’s mental health services — an area that’s grown 240 percent since it was introduced, according to Ferguson.
While this definition sounds a lot like telemedicine, there is one distinct difference. Unlike telemedicine, telehealth also covers non-clinical events like administrative meetings, continuing medical education (CME), and physician training. Telehealth is not a specific service, but a collection of methods to improve patient care and education delivery.
The potential benefits of telehealth services may be limited by other factors, such as the ability to pay for them. Insurance reimbursement for telehealth still varies by state and type of insurance. Also, some people who would benefit most from improved access to care may be limited because of regional internet availability or the cost of mobile devices.
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.
Telehealth Private Payers Reimbursement: There is no federal mandate requiring private payers to reimburse for telehealth services, but several states have enacted telehealth parity laws. Parity laws compel payers to cover the same types of services provided through telehealth as those that are provided face-to-face. They also require payers to reimburse telehealth services at the same payment rate as in-clinic services.
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.
Medicaid: Every state Medicaid plan specifically covers at least some telehealth services, however states vary greatly in their coverage. State-specific information is available on www.atawiki.org and the 50 State Telemedicine Gaps Analysis: Coverage and Reimbursement. ATA has challenged each state to fully cover telemedicine to increase coverage while simultaneously reducing service costs.
Oxford’s telemedicine definition is “the remote diagnosis and treatment of patients by means of telecommunications technology.” Telemedicine encompasses the use of technologies and telecommunication systems to administer healthcare to patients who are geographically separated from providers. For example, a radiologist may read and interpret the imaging results for a patient in a different county whose hospital does not currently have a radiologist on staff. Or a physician may conduct an urgent-care consultation via video for a non-life-threatening condition.
Jamee has provided care since 2002, and provided virtual care since 2015. She received her Bachelor and Master of Science in Nursing from the University of Texas in Houston. Jamee has spent the majority of her nursing career with a focus in emergency and urgent care, transitioning her focus to Family Practice in 2014. She recently relocated to the Northwest from Dallas with her husband and five children. She enjoys reading, crafts, cooking and camping.
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.
Shannon Edmonds has practiced medicine since 2009, and provided virtual care since 2015. She started out her professional career as a teacher and eventually went back to school for her BSN, then Master's and Doctoral degrees in nursing at University of Washington. Her nursing experience ranges from being a school nurse, nursing research, and most recently, doing in-home health assessments. As a family Nurse Practitioner, she finds the gamut of diagnoses and ages interesting.
Telehealth requires a strong, reliable broadband connection. The broadband signal transmission infrastructure includes wires, cables, microwaves and optic fibre, which must be maintained for the provision of telehealth services. The better the connection (bandwidth quality), the more data can be sent and received. Historically this has priced providers or patients out of the service, but as the infrastructure improves and becomes more accessible, telehealth usage can grow.
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.
There are many new medical tech terms being used today that the average patient may not be familiar with. For example, a common misunderstanding is that the terms telemedicine, telecare, and telehealth are interchangeable. The truth is that each of these terms refers to a different way of administering health care via existing technologies or a different area of medical technology. To clarify the subtle differences between these three terms, we have provided a detailed definition of each.
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.
“Our executive leadership have been strong supporters of telemedicine at UPMC for more than a decade,” said Sokolovich of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. “With the initial success of tele-stroke and tele-behavioral health services, leadership recognizes the potential of telehealth in implementing new models of care that enhance the patient experience, support access to quality care regardless of geographic location, and maximize efficiencies.”
One of the key advantages of telemedicine is the ability to provide healthcare to a patient, no matter the patient or provider’s location. However, since providers are licensed to practice in a specific state, they are only legally allowed to offer telemedicine services to patients in the same state. Currently, 49 state medical boards require physicians practicing telemedicine to be licensed in the state where the patient is located.
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.
WiFi : Wifi was originally licensed bu the Wi-Fi alliance and it is used to describe the technology of wireless local area networks, abbreviated as WLAN. This technology was primarily developed for mobile computing devices like laptops in Local Area Networks, but with technological advancements, it is now used for an array of services which include VoIP phone access, gaming as well as basic connection of electronics such as smartphones, DVD players, Home theaters and Televisions.
However, whether or not the standard of health care quality is increasing is quite debatable, with literature refuting such claims. Research is increasingly reporting that clinicians find the process difficult and complex to deal with. Furthermore, there are concerns around informed consent, legality issues as well as legislative issues. Although health care may become affordable with the help of technology, whether or not this care will be "good" is the issue.
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Interactive medicine, also known as “live telemedicine”, allows patients and physicians to communicate in real-time while also maintaining HIPAA compliance. Communication methods include both phone consultations and video conferences. Physicians can assess a patient’s medical history, perform psychiatric evaluations, and more using interactive medicine.
While many branches of medicine have wanted to fully embrace telehealth for a long time, there are certain risks and barriers which bar the full amalgamation of telehealth into best practice. For a start, it is dubious as to whether a practitioner can fully leave the "hands-on" experience behind. Although it is predicted that telehealth will replace many consultations and other health interactions, it cannot yet fully replace a physical examination, this is particularly so in diagnostics, rehabilitation or mental health.
Router – This is a device which provides connection to at least two networks on an organization. It provides network connection on multiple locations and it is responsible in finding the best route between two sites. It tells the videoconferencing devices where the destination devices can be found and it will find the best way to gather the information from that specific destination.
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.
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.
Telehealth’s existence can be dated from the 1960’s with one of the earliest applications being the monitoring of the physiological parameters of astronauts. Over the years, thanks to technological advancement, there has been a number of technological and communications tools that have been implemented to enable the transfer of patient’s information for recommendations and consultations across almost every medical environment and specialty. Telehealth services have also been able to provide remote monitoring of the patient, consumer health communication and information and medical education for providers. Typically, delivery techniques include: networked programs that link tertiary medical centers to outlying centers and clinics in rural areas, home phone-video connections, point-to-point connection to hospitals and clinics, web-based e-health service pages and home monitoring links.
Where telemedicine refers specifically to the practice of medicine via remote means, telehealth is a blanket term that covers all components and activities of healthcare and the healthcare system that are conducted through telecommunications technology. Healthcare education, wearable devices that record and transmit vital signs, and provider-to-provider remote communication are examples of telehealth activities and applications that extend beyond remote clinical care.
Only some states have actually regulations requiring healthcare providers to get patients’ informed consent to use telemedicine. However, this is always good practice, whether or not your state requires it. Before the first telemedicine visit, providers should explain to patients how telemedicine works (when service is available, scheduling, privacy etc), any limits on confidentiality, possibility for technical failure, protocols for contact between virtual visits, prescribing policies, and coordinating care with other health professionals. Everything should be explained in simple, clear language.
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