Today the telemedicine field is changing faster than ever before. As technology advances at exponential levels, so does the widespread affordability and accessibility to basic telemedicine tools. For example, not only do we now have the technology for live video telemedicine, but much of the U.S. population has experience using online videochat apps (like Skype or Facetime), and access to a computer or mobile device to use them.
Interoperability: This refers to two systems ((software, networks, communication devices, computers and other types of information technology components))or more being able to interact with each other and exchange information so that predictable results can be achieved. There are three different kinds of interoperability: technical; clinical and human/operational.
Telenursing refers to the use of telecommunications and information technology in order to provide nursing services in health care whenever a large physical distance exists between patient and nurse, or between any number of nurses. As a field it is part of telehealth, and has many points of contacts with other medical and non-medical applications, such as telediagnosis, teleconsultation, telemonitoring, etc.
In layman’s language, telemedicine and telehealth are terms that represent the transfer and exchange of medical information between different sites. From the American Telemedicine Association’s point of view; telemedicine, as well as telehealth, are all about transmission of still images, patient’s consultations through video conferencing, patient portals, remote control and monitoring of vital signs, continuing medical education, patient-focused wireless applications and nursing call centers and many other applications.
With telemedicine, a medical practice or hospital system can immediately expand access to niche medical specialists. This makes it easy for primary care doctors to consult medical specialists on a patient case, and for patients to see a needed specialist on a rare form of cancer, no matter their location. As another example, small hospitals without adequate radiology specialist on-staff can outsource evaluation of x-rays via telemedicine.
Telehealth specialists with specialized training in talking with patients and diagnosing over the phone and via online video, while adhering to Teladoc's set of 130 proprietary, evidence-based, clinical practice guidelines for the telephonic and audio-video treatment of common, uncomplicated medical conditions (the only guidelines in the industry specific to telehealth).
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.
Bluetooth Wireless: Bluetooth refers to an industrial specification that applies to wireless area networks. Bluetooth technology offers a way of connecting and exchanging information between devices, including laptops, mobile phones, PCs, video game consoles, digital cameras and printers over a globally unlicensed and secure short-range radio frequency. The Bluetooth Special Interest Groups has developed and licensed the Bluetooth specifications.
The Satellite African eHEalth vaLidation (SAHEL) demonstration project has shown how satellite broadband technology can be used to establish telemedicine in such areas. SAHEL was started in 2010 in Kenya and Senegal, providing self-contained, solar-powered internet terminals to rural villages for use by community nurses for collaboration with distant health centres for training, diagnosis and advice on local health issues
Not all state and federal agencies define telehealth in exactly the same terms, but most are fairly consistent with the federal Health Resources and Services Administration, which defines telehealth this way, “The use of electronic information and telecommunications technologies to support long-distance clinical health care, patient and professional health-related education, public health and health administration.”
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.
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.
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.
Today, 95 percent of Americans own cell phones and 77 percent own smartphones. These and other mobile devices can be leveraged to promote better health outcomes and increased access to care. mHealth or mobile health refers to healthcare applications and programs patients use on their smartphones, tablets, or laptops. These applications allow patients to track health measurements, set medication and appointment reminders, and share information with clinicians. Users can access hundreds of mHealth applications including asthma and diabetes management tools as well as weight loss or smoking cessation apps. Additionally, mobile devices allow users to schedule appointments and communicate with providers via video conference and text message.
Telehealth for Education and Training: Numerous organizations provide healthcare education with the help of digital telehealth technologies including Harvard’s Safety, Quality, Informatics and Leadership (SQIL) program which takes a blended learning approach. SQIL uses on-demand content combined with in-person training to create a new medical education model that uses “information technology (IT), data, and a culture of continuous improvement to enable healthcare organizations to evolve into true learning systems.” Time-crunched physicians are increasingly using online and mobile platforms to meet their CME and MOC requirements, and to prepare for Board Exams.
Store and forward telehealth refers to the capture, storage, and transmittal of patient health information for asynchronous healthcare delivery using data storage and transmission technology. CAT Scans, MRIs, X-rays, photos, videos, and text-based patient data are gathered and sent to specialists and other members of a care team to evaluate patients and assist in their treatment. Technologies used for store and forward telehealth include secure servers and routers that temporarily house incoming packets of information and then route them to the appropriate end users. Secure email platforms are also used for store and forward telehealth.
The first radiologic images were sent via telephone between two medical staff at two different health centers in Pennsylvania by 1948. The health centers were 24 miles apart from one another! Then in 1959, physicians at the University of Nebraska transmitted neurological examinations across campus to medical students using two-way interactive television. Five years later, a closed-circuit television link was built that allowed physicians to provide psychiatric consultations 112 miles away at Norfolk State Hospital.
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.
Facility Fees. In addition to reimbursement for the telemedicine service, Medicare will pay the originating site a facility fee. For example, if you’re a primary care provider with a patient in your office and you do a telemedicine visit to consult a physician in another location, you could bill for two separate things – the telemedicine service, and a facility fee for using your practice to “host” of the patient visit. Check HCPCS code Q3014 for a full description on facility fees.
A tool that makes healthcare more accessible, cost-effective, and that increases patient engagement – is telemedicine. Since making its debut in the late 1950’s, advances in telemedicine has contributed to seniors having the choice to age in place. In addition, the patients that reside in rural areas that previously had difficulties accessing a physician, can now reach them virtually.
We consider ourselves part of YOUR healthcare team. Our physicians do not take over your patients’ care but serve as a knowledgeable consultant for the attending physician. Through HD video conferencing, our team can speak with patients and assess their condition. Our services can also help your facility meet requirements for CMS and Joint Commission certifications.
Blue Sky Telehealth is committed to making specialty healthcare services more accessible to patients nationwide. We partner with hospitals to create a customized telehealth system that integrates with the facility’s existing processes and technology. Through our service, medical facilities can contact highly experienced medical specialists 24/7 to assist with patient care, diagnosis, and treatment. This saves hospitals the cost of keeping a medical specialist on-call full time and ensures that a qualified medical professional will always be available to tend to a patient with special care needs.
“Telemedicine is the natural evolution of healthcare in the digital world,” American Telemedicine Association. Telemedicine empowers the caregivers to remotely interact with their patients, which greatly improves both the efficiency and affordability of healthcare. Today patients, doctors and caregivers have learned to accept telemedicine (often called ‘telehealth’ or ‘connected health’) as one of many ways of delivering care.
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“Although technology makes it easier for physicians and patients to communicate with one another, technology does nothing to change the sacred obligation that physicians have to deliver the best care for their patients,” he explained. “Our best physician users of telemedicine are those that embrace it as a way to be more efficient themselves, to be more respectful of patients’ time, and to reach a greater number of patients.”
Telemedicine is a significant and rapidly growing component of health care in the United States. There are currently about 200 telemedicine networks, with 3,500 service sites in the US. Nearly 1 million Americans are currently using remote cardiac monitors and in 2011, the Veterans Health Administration delivered over 300,000 remote consultations using telemedicine. Over half of all U.S. hospitals now use some form of telemedicine. Around the world, millions of patients use telemedicine to monitor their vital signs, remain healthy and out of hospitals and emergency rooms. Consumers and physicians download health and wellness applications for use on their cell phones.
In Pakistan three pilot projects in telemedicine was initiated by the Ministry of IT & Telecom, Government of Pakistan (MoIT) through the Electronic Government Directorate in collaboration with Oratier Technologies (a pioneer company within Pakistan dealing with healthcare and HMIS) and PakDataCom (a bandwidth provider). Three hub stations through were linked via the Pak Sat-I communications satellite, and four districts were linked with another hub. A 312 Kb link was also established with remote sites and 1 Mbit/s bandwidth was provided at each hub. Three hubs were established: the Mayo Hospital (the largest hospital in Asia), JPMC Karachi and Holy Family Rawalpindi. These 12 remote sites were connected and on average of 1,500 patients being treated per month per hub. The project was still running smoothly after two years.
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.
“Telemedicine is not a separate medical specialty,” the organization continues. “Products and services related to telemedicine are often part of a larger investment by healthcare institutions in either information technology or the delivery of clinical care. Even in the reimbursement fee structure, there is usually no distinction made between services provided on site and those provided through telemedicine and often no separate coding required for billing of remote services. ATA has historically considered telemedicine and telehealth to be interchangeable terms, encompassing a wide definition of remote healthcare. Patient consultations via video conferencing, transmission of still images, e-health including patient portals, remote monitoring of vital signs, continuing medical education, consumer-focused wireless applications and nursing call centers, among other applications, are all considered part of telemedicine and telehealth.”
“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.”
mHealth, also known as mobile health, is a form of telemedicine using wireless devices and cell phone technologies. It is useful to think of mHealth as a tool--a medium--through which telemedicine can be practiced. mHealth is a particularly powerful development because it delivers clinical care through consumer-grade hardware and allows for greater patient and provider mobility. ATA has an array of Special Interest Groups with one dedicated to the practice and development of mHealth.
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.
In December 2018, it was revealed that Teladoc's chief financial officer, Mark Hirschhorn, 54, had an extra-marital affair with a lower-level employee, 30. He is also alleged to have passed tips to her about when to sell Teladoc company stock. Hirschhorn sold over $20,000,000 in company stock during and after the alleged affair. Several law firms launched investigations of potential securities law violations. Company stock fell roughly 20% in the days following the report.
In August 2017, hospitals across the country were penalized with Medicare reimbursement cuts due to high 30-day readmission rates. The potential to reduce these rates and avoid penalties has made telehealth a financial priority. Healthcare provider TripleCare was the subject of a study conducted by the TRECS Institute, which found that virtual physician services had both increased care quality and averted 91 unnecessary admissions. The result was $1.3 million in Medicare savings. Telehealth services can also provide patients and healthcare facilities in rural areas with additional benefits. NTCA — The Rural Broadband Association released a report in March 2017 that estimated the average annual cost savings per facility could add up to:
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.
Healthcare systems, physician practices, and skilled nursing facilities are using telemedicine to provide care more efficiently. Technologies that comes integrated with telemedicine software like electronic medical records, AI diagnosis and medical streaming devices, can better assist providers in diagnosis and treatment. The latter allows providers to monitor patients in real-time and adjust treatment plans when necessary. Ultimately, this leads to better patient outcomes.
Telemedicine in the trauma operating room: trauma surgeons are able to observe and consult on cases from a remote location using video conferencing. This capability allows the attending to view the residents in real time. The remote surgeon has the capability to control the camera (pan, tilt and zoom) to get the best angle of the procedure while at the same time providing expertise in order to provide the best possible care to the patient.
"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.
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