But getting doctors to jump on board is easier said than done, and takes time. Many are afraid of liability, as it's possible to miss something during a remote visit. And for years, it wasn't clear whether they would get paid as much as an in-person visit. Reimbursement questions are still getting resolved across different states, but most of the commercial and government plans are on board with the idea of telemedicine -- at least in specific circumstances.
To date, there are 33 states plus the District of Columbia, that have parity laws that require private payer reimbursement for telemedicine services. All states with parity laws require private payers to pay for video-conferencing. To date, only a few states require reimbursement for store and forward telemedicine. Organizations should also understand that payment for telemedicine services may not equal that of onsite services.
JM: As the co-founder of Doctor On Demand and executive producer of The Doctors, my weekdays are pretty busy. Most of my morning is focused on producing episodes of The Doctors, and working with my team to plan upcoming episodes. After that’s a wrap, I connect with Adam to talk through anything from customer feedback to driving awareness for the company.
The rise of the internet age brought with it profound changes for the practice of telemedicine. The proliferation of smart devices, capable of high-quality video transmission, opened up the possibility of delivering remote healthcare to patients in their homes, workplaces or assisted living facilities as an alternative to in-person visits for both primary and specialty care.

With the interrelated fields of mobile health, digital health, health IT, telemedicine all constantly changing with new developments, it’s sometimes difficult to pin down a definition for these terms. In much of the healthcare industry, the terms “telehealth” and “telemedicine” are often used interchangeably. In fact, even the ATA considers them to be interchangeable terms. This isn’t surprising since the telehealth and telemedicine definitions encompass very similar services, including: medical education, e-health patient monitoring, patient consultation via video conferencing, health wireless applications, transmission of image medical reports, and many more.
Cheryl Graf has worked in primary care since 1996 and provided virtual care since 2014. She received her Master of Nursing from Pacific Lutheran University. She also works for a local health system and provides temporary support for emergency departments near her home. Her experience includes emergency services, family practice, pediatrics and urgent care. Additionally, she has created and developed training materials for the Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner programs in Washington State. In her spare time, she enjoys golf, gardening and family time.
The future appears to be bright for virtual healthcare services. Patients like using the services because of the convenience. Payers like virtual healthcare because it lowers their costs. As overall healthcare costs increase with more older individuals across the world, telehealth should experience even more growth as a way to control costs without angering patients. 
It is common for outlying healthcare facilities to transfer unnecessarily or forced to refer patients to complex cases that are beyond the knowledge-base of the local providers. Patients are therefore frequently transported over long distances to get direct care or for specialist’s consultation. These referrals and transfers can be quite costly for the patient since they present clinical, operational and financial challenges to all the parties that are involved. Telemedicine can curb such issues, reduce the frequency of travel and deliver considerable efficiencies and returns for all parties involved.

The concept of telemedicine started with the birth of telecommunications technology, the means of sending information over a distance in the form of electromagnetic signals. Early forms of telecommunications technology included the telegraph, radio, and telephone. In the late 19th century, the radio and telephone were just starting to emerge as viable communication technologies. Alexander Graham Bell patented the telephone in 1876 and Heinrich Rudolf Hertz performed the first radio transmission in 1887.
States may submit a coverage SPA to better describe the telemedicine services they choose to cover, such as which providers/practitioners are; where it is provided; how it is provided, etc. In this case, and in order to avoid unnecessary SPA submissions, it is recommended that a brief description of the framework of telemedicine be placed in an introductory section of the State Plan and then a reference made to telemedicine coverage in the applicable benefit sections of the State Plan. For example, in the physician section it might say that dermatology services can be delivered via telemedicine provided all state requirements related to telemedicine as described in the state plan are otherwise met.
Since the internet and mobile devices now pervade our lives, it is natural that people want to leverage telehealth technologies to improve care, offer convenience, promote access, and support sustainability. Telehealth services range from consultations and video conference mental health sessions to public health broadcast text messaging and on-demand provider education.
But getting doctors to jump on board is easier said than done, and takes time. Many are afraid of liability, as it's possible to miss something during a remote visit. And for years, it wasn't clear whether they would get paid as much as an in-person visit. Reimbursement questions are still getting resolved across different states, but most of the commercial and government plans are on board with the idea of telemedicine -- at least in specific circumstances.
The growth in telemedicine solutions means that telemedicine options are now more diverse, with many more affordable solutions. However, most telemedicine programs do require the purchase, set-up and staff training of new technology and equipment – some of which may be outside the budget of providers in smaller independent practices. Many providers are already stretched thin on new technology budgets and staff training for EHR systems, imposed by the Meaningful Use program. Also, for patients who may not have access to a smartphone or a computer with internet, real-time telemedicine may be out of reach.
If a practitioner serves several states, obtaining this license in each state could be an expensive and time-consuming proposition. Even if the practitioner never practices medicine face-to-face with a patient in another state, he/she still must meet a variety of other individual state requirements, including paying substantial licensure fees, passing additional oral and written examinations, and traveling for interviews.
Dr. Miller has practiced medicine since 1988, and provided virtual care since 2015. She completed her medical degree at the Sackler School of Medicine in Tel Aviv then returned to New York to complete her family medicine residency. She later completed her preventive medicine residency at the University of Washington, earning her MPH. Since 1992, she has worked in family medicine and public health in Washington. She continues to provide care at a local clinic and appreciates the opportunity to help her patients make effective healthcare choices. Dr. Miller received Top Docs Recognition for four years in Seattle Met Magazine. Away from work, she enjoys time with her family, traveling, gardening and being outdoors.
A landmark 2010 report by the World Health Organization found that telemedicine – literally meaning “healing from a distance” — can be traced back to the mid-1800s, was first featured in published accounts early on in the 20th Century, and adopted its modern form in the late 1960s and early 1970s, primarily through the military and space industries. Owing to the fact that much of the technology encompassed in today’s telemedicine platform wasn’t around back then, and noting a 2007 study that found 104 different peer-reviewed definitions for the word, the WHO settled on its own broad-based definition:
“If there are areas of clinical need across the healthcare network, telemedicine may allow for better leveraging and expanding access to sub-specialists,” Sokolovich said. “Another opportunity could include better triaging patients through telemedicine-enabled provider-to-provider or provider-to-patient evaluations, which bring together experts who can quickly assess the best care path and eliminate unnecessary hospital admissions or emergency department visits.”
1. Request a visit with a doctor 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Requests can be made by web, phone, or mobile app. Want to see the doctor with whom you’re speaking? Choose “video” as the method for your visit. Feeling camera shy? Choose “phone.” Got a busy schedule? Select a time that’s best for you by choosing “schedule” instead of “as soon as possible.”
In developed countries, health promotion efforts using telehealth have been met with some success. The Australian hands-free breastfeeding Google Glass application reported promising results in 2014. This application made in collaboration with the Australian Breastfeeding Association and a tech startup called Small World Social, helped new mothers learn how to breastfeed.[27][28][29] Breastfeeding is beneficial to infant health and maternal health and is recommended by the World Health Organisation and health organisations all over the world.[30][31] Widespread breastfeeding can prevent 820,000 infant deaths globally but the practice is often stopped prematurely or intents to do are disrupted due to lack of social support, know-how or other factors.[31] This application gave mother's hands-free information on breastfeeding, instructions on how to breastfeed and also had an option to call a lactation consultant over Google Hangout. When the trial ended, all participants were reported to be confident in breastfeeding.[29]
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.
With the recent news that Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, Berkshire Hathaway’s Warren Buffet, and J.P. Morgan Chase’s Jamie Dimon have teamed up to disrupt healthcare, it’s easy to speculate that telehealth technology will be a key strategy in efforts to bring down costs. Other employers are seeking to bring down prices as well with the help of telehealth. According to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), not only are employers encouraging the use of telehealth services, their employees, many of whom are digital natives, are quite comfortable using these services. Because of remote healthcare’s lower costs and increased worker productivity and satisfaction, organizations will likely seek telehealth solutions. Moreover, payers, like employers, may be lured by decreased medical expenditures and consumers may be motivated by the convenience and promptness of care that it offers.
Telehealth can also increase health promotion efforts. These efforts can now be more personalised to the target population and professionals can extend their help into homes or private and safe environments in which patients of individuals can practice, ask and gain health information.[8][21][24] Health promotion using telehealth has become increasingly popular in underdeveloped countries where there are very poor physical resources available. There has been a particular push toward mHealth applications as many areas, even underdeveloped ones have mobile phone coverage.[25][26]
Symptoms occur due to a swelling of the breathing tubes, which makes it difficult for air to pass into the lungs. For those who smoke cigarettes, suffer from obesity, or live with allergies, these symptoms are more severe. By speaking with a U.S. doctor through your consultation, you can receive a prescription for the proper medication to treat asthma. To treat your symptoms,click herefor more information! .
Telemedicine reimbursement is a difficult topic, especially with the constantly changing state policies. Many states now have parity laws which require private payers to reimburse for telemedicine visits the same way as in-person visits. The best way to navigate reimbursement is to call up your top payers and ask their policies. You can also check out our guide to telemedicine reimbursement and this helpful matrix from ATA on state policy.

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. [5] 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.


In an increasingly crowded field, the start-up is undercutting the competition with its $40 fee. American Well, which provides its technology to WellPoint , charges $49 for online visits, so does MDLive. Better offers access to a personal health assistant for $49 a month, and HealthTap recently announced it will facilitate medical consultations for $99 a month. Jackson also says that his company charges corporations $40 when the service is used, as opposed to the industry practice of charging per employee per month.
One of the biggest advantages of telehealth services is easy access to on-demand care. During a telemedicine consultation, a physician can inquire about symptoms, discuss treatment and determine whether a prescription is necessary. More importantly, for patients who don’t have a reliable means of transportation or who struggle with mobility challenges or disabilities that make traveling difficult, remote access can be a huge quality of life improvement. This is especially true for those living with chronic conditions for which frequent checkups are necessary. Telehealth services are also helping to fill healthcare gaps faced by rural communities across the United States — in areas where patients may have to drive for hours to get to the nearest hospital or specialist.
Patients and their families often want continuous monitoring and care. Traditional health insurance providers are partnering with telehealth companies, to address those concerns. Anthem is working with American Well, Cigna is working with MDLive, Bupa is working with Babylon Health and Aflac is working with MeMD to deliver benefits of telehealth to it’s existing customers. Health insurance providers such as Oscar Health is redefining health-insurance by building the whole customer experience around its own telehealth services.
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.
Patients should ask their doctor, hospital or healthcare provider about telemedicine services that are already available. In many cases, the provider may have an existing home health monitoring program or other telemedicine services.  There are also numerous private companies that sell basic telehealth services, including 24/7 access to a health professional, remote monitoring, medication adherence and online wellness apps.
According to the American Telemedicine Association, telehealth encompasses a range of services, from health monitoring and patient consultation to the transmission of medical records. It’s more broadly defined as any electronic exchange of health information. A growing number of healthcare organizations have embraced telehealth because of the benefits it provides to patients and clinicians.
Sharla Peterson has worked in primary care since 2007 and provided virtual care since 2011. She received her Master of Nursing from Washington State University. In addition to her career in telemedicine, she works part-time in a plastic surgery office and volunteers at a free clinic near her home. She serves as Medical Director for local Camporee events with the Boy Scouts of America and works with youth in her church. When she is not working, she enjoys cooking, family time and outdoor adventures of all kinds.
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