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.
While the industry is still a long way from a standard set of established guidelines for telemedicine, the American Telemedicine Association has put together guidelines for a range of specialties based on a survey hundreds of research study. What are the clinical, technical, and administrative guidelines a medical practice needs to put in place when they’re adopting telemedicine? Beyond the minimal legal requirements of that state, what are telemedicine best practices?
Doctor On Demand offers fast, easy and cost-effective video consultations with board-certified physicians, psychiatrists, and licensed psychologists via smartphone or computer. The service is available for anyone to use 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. To access Doctor On Demand, download the app (iTunes or Google Play) or create an account on the website. Once registered, patients can enter code HARVEY2017 to redeem their visit with a medical physician.
Today’s competitive health care marketplace has created an environment where patients demand lower costs, higher service quality, and convenient access to services.  Telehealth is an innovative and valuable mechanism that provides patients with efficient access to quality services. Lowering costs and removing barriers to service access, are critical components in promoting patient wellness and population health. Convenience and cost-effectiveness are important commodities in the modern health care marketplace, as patients tend to avoid treatment that is difficult to access or too expensive. As a result, telehealth technology is emerging as a preferred choice among patients and providers. Telehealth has also attracted the attention of US legislators. They utilize this tool for improving the competitiveness of American health care services. This is especially important, seeing as health care represents 17 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product (GDP). In fact, the resource has helped to define the role that lawmakers play in ensuring that patients benefit in a competitive health care market.
Telemedicine solutions that fall into the remote patient monitoring (RPM) allow healthcare providers to track a patient’s vital signs and other health data from a distance. This makes it easy to watch for warning signs and quickly intervene in patients who are at health-risk or are recovering from a recent surgery, for example. This type of telemedicine is sometimes also called telemonitoring or home telehealth.
“Telehealth is different from telemedicine because it refers to a broader scope of remote healthcare services than telemedicine. While telemedicine refers specifically to remote clinical services, telehealth can refer to remote non-clinical services, such as provider training, administrative meetings, and continuing medical education, in addition to clinical services.”
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.
Roy Schoenberg, the CEO of American Well, believes that doctors, insurers and employers will increasingly inform their patients about the option to use telemedicine, which will help consumers get over many of their fears. If they've already got a relationship with that doctor, a virtual consult might seem like an easier alternative to getting across town to a doctor's office and sitting in a waiting room.
This open, multidirectional sharing of knowledge and expertise creates new local capacity that didn't previously exist to treat devastating conditions like opioid addiction, rheumatoid arthritis, heart disease, HIV and hepatitis. In New Mexico, for example, the number of providers certified to treat opioid use disorder with buprenorphine has increased more than tenfold—from 36 in 2005 to 375 in 2014—following the launch of an ECHO for treating addiction.
This isn't to say that you should jump right in and begin providing services via telehealth. You'll first need to consider federal and state legislation and regulations that govern your practice, risk management implications, billing and coding issues, and hardware/software requirements. The resources below aren't meant to give you detailed instructions on developing and using telehealth in your practice, but they identify areas most important for you to investigate and consider.
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.
In the 2010s, integration of smart home telehealth technologies (wellness and health devices and software, Internet of Things) appears to be a growing phenomenon in the industry. Beyond that, healthcare organizations are increasingly adopting the use of self-tracking technologies, cloud-based technologies, and innovative data analytic approaches to accelerate the transformation of the healthcare system.
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.
Reimbursement for Medicaid covered services, including those with telemedicine applications, must satisfy federal requirements of efficiency, economy and quality of care. States are encouraged to use the flexibility inherent in federal law to create innovative payment methodologies for services that incorporate telemedicine technology. For example, states may reimburse the physician or other licensed practitioner at the distant site and reimburse a facility fee to the originating site. States can also reimburse any additional costs such as technical support, transmission charges, and equipment. These add-on costs can be incorporated into the fee-for-service rates or separately reimbursed as an administrative cost by the state. If they are separately billed and reimbursed, the costs must be linked to a covered Medicaid service.
This type of telemedicine allows providers to share patient information with a practitioner in another location. For example, a primary care physician can now share patient records and medical data with a specialist without being in the same room. Systems can transmit information across vast distances and different systems (sometimes) so one physician can know what another has already done. This leads to less duplicate testing and fewer instances of poor medication management.
Remote surgery (also known as telesurgery) is the ability for a doctor to perform surgery on a patient even though they are not physically in the same location. It is a form of telepresence. Remote surgery combines elements of robotics, cutting edge communication technology such as high-speed data connections, haptics and elements of management information systems. While the field of robotic surgery is fairly well established, most of these robots are controlled by surgeons at the location of the surgery.
State medical licensing boards have sometimes opposed telemedicine; for example, in 2012 electronic consultations were illegal in Idaho, and an Idaho-licensed general practitioner was punished by the board for prescribing an antibiotic, triggering reviews of her licensure and board certifications across the country. Subsequently, in 2015 the state legislature legalized electronic consultations.
Teladoc's private funding rounds included $9 million in December 2009, $4 million in January 2011, $18.6 million in September 2011, $15 million in September 2013, and $50 million in September 2014. On April 29, 2015, the company submitted preliminary confidential IPO paperwork, and on May 29, 2015 it publicly filed for its IPO. On July 1, 2015, the company went public with a New York Stock Exchange-listed IPO at $19 per share, which gave the company a market capitalization of $758 million and an enterprise value of $620 million. The initial response to the IPO was good: shares surged 50% on the opening day to close at $28.50, after opening at $29.90 and trading as high as $31.90.
When you need to find care, let us bring a healthcare provider to you. From your mobile device or computer, it’s never been easier for you and your family to instantly access world class care at home or work. For nonemergency concerns, patients ages 2 and older can get a diagnosis or prescription online from a healthcare provider in about a 10-minute virtual visit. Our Express Care Online service allows you to choose between an on demand visit right away or to schedule a virtual follow-up visit for a later date.
All the numbers point to the exponential growth of telemedicine – in other words, it’s not going anywhere. The global telemedicine market was worth $17.8 billion in 2014, and is projected to grow well beyond that by 2020. ATA President Dr. Reed Tuckson estimated that approximately 800,000 virtual consultations will take place in the U.S. in 2015. And health systems, doctors, legislators, and patients are fueling that upward trend. A recent survey found an incredible90% of healthcare executives were in the process of developing or implementing a telemedicine program, and 84% said these program were important. IHS projected the number of patients using telemedicine will rise from roughly 350,000 in 2013 to 7 million by 2018. And with this high demand for telemedicine, legislators are scrambling to pass bills that offer both support and needed regulations; in August 2015, Congress had 26 telemedicine-related bills waiting for decision.
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.
Through live video visits, our hand-picked, US-trained doctors take patient history, perform an exam, and recommend a treatment plan. Prescriptions, if needed, go directly to the pharmacy of choice. While insurance isn’t required, tens of millions of Americans enjoy covered medical and mental health visits through employer and health plan partnerships. To learn more about the hundreds of medical issues we treat, visit us at DoctorOnDemand.com.
The doctors can treat flu symptoms, rashes, allergies, urinary tract infections, and bronchitis—and even prescribe medication—without ever physically seeing the patient. Gorevic says nurses then go back and review the charts to effectively audit the diagnoses and treatment. Teladoc refers about 1% of consultations to the E.R., and 5% to 6% to a primary care physician or urgent care center. (No, you can’t find a new doctor through Teladoc: The company prohibits its doctors from seeing their online patients in real life.) Soon, Teladoc plans to expand its specialty offerings to include dermatology and behavioral health.
The range and use of telehealth services have expanded over the past decades, along with the role of technology in improving and coordinating care. Traditional models of telehealth involve care delivered to a patient at an originating (or spoke) site from a specialist working at a distant (or hub) site. A telehealth network consists of a series of originating sites receiving services from a collaborating distant site.
Dr. Bernstein has practiced medicine since 1990 and provided virtual care with our team since 2006. He received his medical degree from the University of North Carolina and completed a residency at Providence Family Practice in Seattle. He also holds a Master's Degree in Public Health from the University of Washington. Dr. Bernstein is dedicated to quality preventive medicine, public health promotion, and research. As Director of Clinical Quality, he manages the development and maintenance of the clinical standards of patient care, working with the development team to create new systems for measuring clinical delivery effectiveness. In his spare time, he is an avid cyclist and a soccer fan.