Telemedicine is viewed as a cost-effective alternative to the more traditional face-to-face way of providing medical care (e.g., face-to-face consultations or examinations between provider and patient) that states can choose to cover under Medicaid. This definition is modeled on Medicare's definition of telehealth services (42 CFR 410.78). Note that the federal Medicaid statute does not recognize telemedicine as a distinct service.
The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services defines telehealth as the use of electronic information and telecommunications technologies to support and promote long-distance clinical health care, patient and professional health-related education, public health and health administration. Technologies include videoconferencing, the internet, store-and-forward imaging, streaming media, and terrestrial and wireless communications.
Because of telemedicine, physicians can access patient medical records without being onsite. Some telemedicine providers offer the ability to do data entry using a point-and-click method or video/handwriting recognition. This can cut down on the amount of time that physicians dedicate to administrative tasks. As a result, physicians can see more patients or spend more time with those cases that are more complex.
^ Parikh, Mili; Grosch, Maria C; Graham, Lara L; Hynan, Linda S; Weiner, Myron; Shore, James H; Cullum, C. Munro (2013). "Consumer Acceptability of Brief Videoconference-based Neuropsychological Assessment in Older Individuals with and without Cognitive Impairment". The Clinical Neuropsychologist. 27 (5): 808–17. doi:10.1080/13854046.2013.791723. PMC 3692573. PMID 23607729.
Store and Forward – This is a form of telehealth consultation which uses images from the patients to come up with the medical diagnosis. The different types of Store and Forward services include dermatology, radiology and wound care. It may also include transferring of patients’ clinical data like ECG and blood test results from the patients’ site to the hospital’s site.
Funding Opportunities: Telehealth can be an important tool for improving access to quality health care, especially for underserved and economically or medically vulnerable populations. Applicants who propose a telehealth component to their work plan are encouraged to reach out to one of the 12 HRSA-supported Regional Telehealth Resource Centers , which provide technical assistance to organizations and individuals who are actively providing or interested in providing telehealth services to rural and/or underserved communities.
For purposes of Medicaid, telemedicine seeks to improve a patient's health by permitting two-way, real time interactive communication between the patient, and the physician or practitioner at the distant site. This electronic communication means the use of interactive telecommunications equipment that includes, at a minimum, audio and video equipment.
While telemedicine has shown to be a game changer in the field of medicine, there are still a number of barriers to overcome. Physicians face challenges regarding how they’ll be paid and where they can practice, while patients voice security concerns. Once these barriers are removed, we can anticipate greater access to care and improved patient outcomes.
We make any additions or deletions to the services defined as Medicare telehealth services effective on a January 1st basis. The annual physician fee schedule proposed rule published in the summer and the final rule (published by November 1) is used as the vehicle to make these changes. The public has the opportunity to submit requests to add or delete services on an ongoing basis.
Based on over 600 studies, the AMA has put together a comprehensive set of guidelines for professionals using telemedicine in primary and urgent care – a field that is quickly adopting telemedicine to expand basic healthcare access. Here are some of the basic protocols and rules a primary care or urgent care facility should put into place when starting their telemedicine program.
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.
Children under 3 with a fever need to be seen immediately by a doctor in an office based setting. Children under 12 with ear pain can be treated if the pain is due to a virus (e.g. Colds), allergies, or an external infection. If there is a high likelihood it is a bacterial inner infection that needs antibiotics, they should be seen immediately by a doctor in an office based setting.