A sexually transmitted illness, which affects men and women of all ages, herpes is embarrassing to deal with. Whether in the form of a cold sore on your mouth, or a rash on your genitals, discomfort and unease is sure to follow. While there is no cure for Herpes at this time, there are several treatment options which have been made available across the United States.
Teladoc provides access to board-certified, state-licensed physicians 24 hours a day for non-emergency medical issues such as allergies, bronchitis, pink eye, sinus problems, and ear infection via audio-video technology for consultations regarding medical advice, diagnoses and basic prescription medications. The company bills itself as a telehealth provider due to its function of facilitating "remote house calls by primary care doctors". However, United States Department of Health and Human Services states that the term telehealth covers a broader range including "non-clinical services, such as provider training, administrative meetings, and continuing medical education" and that the term telemedicine means "remote clinical services". Its competitors include PlushCare, American Well, MDLIVE Inc., Doctor On Demand, and Carena.
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
The laws regarding reimbursements change regularly as more service providers incorporate telehealth technology into their practices. Reimbursement procedures can vary by state, practice, insurer, and service.  Care providers need to understand several facts, regulations, and laws to navigate Medicare telehealth reimbursements. They must first scrutinize whether the distance between the facility (the originating site) and the patient is far enough to qualify as a distant site. The location must also qualify as a Health Professional Shortage Area (HPSA) per Medicare guidelines. Additionally, the originating site must fall under Medicare’s classification as a legally authorized private practice, hospital, or critical access hospital (CAH). For instance, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services ranks the Harvard Street Neighborhood Health Center as a top facility in need of physician services based on these criteria. Care providers must also use proper insurance coding to be reimbursed for hosting services that use telehealth technologies. For now, collecting reimbursements for telehealth services remains simpler for practitioners who limit the scope to which they apply the technology.
Telemedicine also can eliminate the possible transmission of infectious diseases or parasites between patients and medical staff. This is particularly an issue where MRSA is a concern. Additionally, some patients who feel uncomfortable in a doctors office may do better remotely. For example, white coat syndrome may be avoided. Patients who are home-bound and would otherwise require an ambulance to move them to a clinic are also a consideration.
Teladoc (NYSE:TDOC) is the global leader in virtual care. A mission-driven organization, the company is successfully modernizing how people access and experience healthcare, with a focus on high quality, lower costs, and improved outcomes around the world. The company’s award-winning, integrated clinical solutions are inclusive of telehealth, expert medical opinions, AI and analytics, and licensable platform services. With more than 2,000 employees, the organization delivers care in 125 countries and in more than 20 languages, partnering with employers, hospitals and health systems, and insurers to transform care delivery.
At TeleHealth Services, we design and deliver interactive touchpoint solutions for better outcomes across the patient care continuum. With more than 2,500 client hospitals and clinics, 430 interactive patient care solutions commissioned, and 60 years of point-of-care expertise, TeleHealth Services is the leading provider of interactive patient experience solutions to the U.S. healthcare industry. We are the only provider of end-to-end interactive patient engagement and interactive patient TV solutions to enhance the patient experience, increase patient satisfaction, improve outcomes, and support the continuum of care. Our Health AV solutions are designed for the particular needs of the healthcare industry and, with our sister division Avidex; one of the largest A/V integrator in the nation.
Reimbursement for telemedicine services is often not as straightforward for traditional medical services. State telemedicine policy landscape is continuously shifting, affecting rules around reimbursement through state Medicaid programs and through private payers. Medicare does now reimburses for real-time telemedicine services, but places restrictions on the eligible healthcare providers, the location of the patient, the medical procedures that can be done, etc. The good news is, there is a shift towards more widespread reimbursement for telemedicine through all third-party payers, with less restrictions.
Increased access: Patients in rural areas can obtain specialty services, such a mental health treatment or post-surgery follow up, that they otherwise might not get without traveling a large distance for an in-person visit. Similarly, patients who live in federally designated, underserved areas have increased access to primary, dental and mental healthcare.
The term ‘telehealth’ is gaining popularity among medical professionals, compared to the original term, ‘telemedicine.’  Some medical professionals use the names interchangeably. However, telemedicine is a term that may apply to the application of any technology in the clinical setting, while telehealth more distinctly describes the delivery of services to patients. Telemedicine is a familiar term, but telehealth more appropriately describes the latest trends in using technology to deliver treatments to patients. Depending on the organization, service providers may use a different definitions of telehealth. Although the basic premise remains similar, the context may change according to factors such as organizational objectives, and the needs of the patient population being served. Medical experts do agree on one point; telehealth is an innovative way of engaging patients, and it is highly beneficial for both providers and patients.
The field of telemedicine has changed drastically from its inception. It was only about fifty years ago that a few hospitals started experimenting with telemedicine to reach patients in remote locations. But with the rapid changes in technology over the last few decades, telemedicine has transformed into a complex integrated service used in hospitals, homes, private physician offices, and other healthcare facilities.
As of 2015, Teladoc was the only telemedicine company to be publicly traded on the New York Stock Exchange. In December 2016, the American Hospital Association exclusively endorsed Teladoc's telehealth technology platform. Teladoc now operates its full suite of services 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, by web, phone, or mobile app in 48 of the 50 states.
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 companies that are consumer-facing offer the huge benefit of on-demand care for patients. A sick patient can simply login online and request a visit with one of the company’s doctors and get treatment. But this model, similar to the retail health movement, leads to a breakdown in care continuity. A random doctor who doesn’t know the patient, doesn’t know their whole medical history. The best approach to telemedicine? Providing tools to providers to easily connect with their own patients.
Yes. Guided by technical standards and clinical practice guidelines, and backed by decades of research and demonstrations, telemedicine is a safe and cost-effective way to extend the delivery of health care. ATA has produced a series of standards, guidelines and best practices for healthcare providers to ensure that they are using telemedicine responsibly.
^ Wadsworth, Hannah E; Galusha-Glasscock, Jeanine M; Womack, Kyle B; Quiceno, Mary; Weiner, Myron F; Hynan, Linda S; Shore, Jay; Cullum, C. Munro (2016). "Remote Neuropsychological Assessment in Rural American Indians with and without Cognitive Impairment". Archives of Clinical Neuropsychology. 31 (5): 420. doi:10.1093/arclin/acw030. PMID 27246957.
In the early days, telemedicine was used mostly to connect doctors working with a patient in one location to specialists somewhere else. This was of great benefit to rural or hard to reach populations where specialists aren’t readily available. Throughout the next several decades, the equipment necessary to conduct remote visits remained expensive and complex, so the use of the approach, while growing, was limited.
In the United States, the major companies offering primary care for non-acute illnesses include Teladoc, American Well, and PlushCare. Companies such as Grand Rounds offer remote access to specialty care. Additionally, telemedicine companies are collaborating with health insurers and other telemedicine providers to expand marketshare and patient access to telemedicine consultations. For example, In 2015, UnitedHealthcare announced that it would cover a range of video visits from Doctor On Demand, American Well's AmWell, and its own Optum's NowClinic, which is a white-labeled American Well offering. On November 30, 2017, PlushCare launched in some U.S. states, the Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) therapy for prevention of HIV. In this PrEP initiative, PlushCare does not require an initial check-up and provides consistent online doctor visits, regular local laboratory testing and prescriptions filled at partner pharmacies.
As the CCHP notes, different organizations have different definitions for telehealth. California very specifically defines it as “the mode of delivering healthcare services and public health via information and communication technologies to facilitate the diagnosis, consultation, treatment, education, care management and self-management of a patient's healthcare while the patient is at the originating site and the healthcare provider is at a distant site. Telehealth facilitates patient self-management and caregiver support for patients and includes synchronous interactions and asynchronous store and forward transfers.” The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), meanwhile, defines it as “the use of electronic information and telecommunications technologies to support long-distance clinical healthcare, patient and professional health-related education, public health and health administration.”
Because of telemedicine, patients who previously had limited access to health care services can now see a physician without leaving their home. Seniors who would prefer to age in place can now do so with the use of medical streaming devices. The spread of disease is reduced as individuals with contagious diseases don’t have to expose it to others in crowded waiting rooms.
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.
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.
Yet healthcare systems struggle to turn this form of technology into a profitable revenue stream. Consumers have been slow to adopt this model. And, according to a Rand study published in 2017, it appears to attract a new set of consumers who might not otherwise use medical services, thereby driving costs up. Findings related to utilization and spending for acute respiratory illness based on commercial claims data from more than 300,000 patients between 2011 and 2013 included:
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.
More accessible, convenient healthcare for patients is the driving force behind the telemedicine field. Telemedicine was originally developed in the U.S. as a way to address care shortages, especially in remote rural areas. Now telemedicine is used around the world, whether it’s to provide basic healthcare in third-world countries or allow an elderly patient with mobility issues to see the doctor from home. Telemedicine has the power not only to break down typical geographical barriers to care access, but to make the entire healthcare delivery model more convenient to patients.
Telehealth is sometimes discussed interchangeably with telemedicine. The Health Resources and Services Administration distinguishes telehealth from telemedicine in its scope. According to them, telemedicine only describes remote clinical services; such as diagnosis and monitoring, while telehealth includes preventative, promotive and curative care delivery. This includes the above-mentioned non-clinical applications like administration and provider education which make telehealth the preferred modern terminology.
Telehealth allows the patient to be monitored between physician office visits which can improve patient health. Telehealth also allows patients to access expertise which is not available in their local area. This remote patient monitoring ability enables patients to stay at home longer and helps avoid unnecessary hospital time. In the long-term, this could potentially result in less burdening of the healthcare system and consumption of resources.
VSee urges organizations interested in implementing telemedicine to find a telemedicine provider that offers HIPAA compliant software. This means that all data must be fully encrypted, have secure peer-to-peer network connections and have no storage of video. Telemedicine providers should also be comfortable signing a business associate agreement, which asserts that they will take responsibility in keeping patient information safe.
There’s a lot to be optimistic about in the future of telemedicine. With rapid advances in technology, it’s likely that telemedicine will only become easier and more widely accepted in the coming years. Already, smart glasses (like Google Glass) and smart watches (like the Apple Watch) can monitor patients’ health data and transmit them in real time to health professionals. Programs like clmtrackr can analyze a person’s emotional state based on their facial expressions and could be used to monitor mental wellness. Digital health startups like Augmedix, are experimenting with automatically transcribing documentation during a patient visit. Advances in robotic surgeries allow surgeons to operate on patients from afar.
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.
Medicaid guidelines require all providers to practice within the scope of their State Practice Act. Some states have enacted legislation that requires providers using telemedicine technology across state lines to have a valid state license in the state where the patient is located. Any such requirements or restrictions placed by the state are binding under current Medicaid rules.
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.
Telehealth projects underway before and during the 1980s would take off but fail to enter mainstream healthcare. As a result, this period of telehealth history is called the "maturation" stage and made way for sustainable growth. Although State funding in North America was beginning to run low, different hospitals began to launch their own telehealth initiatives. Additionally, NASA started experimenting with their ATS-3 satellite. Eventually, NASA started their SateLife/HealthNet programme which tried to increase the health services connectivity in developing countries.
This is one of the most frequently asked questions at ATA. Unfortunately, it is also one of the most difficult to answer. Estimates on the market size for telemedicine vary widely, depending on each analyst's precise definition of telemedicine. While they can't agree on a single number, one area where all research firms concur is that the telemedicine market is growing rapidly.
In April 2012, a Manchester-based Video CBT pilot project was launched to provide live video therapy sessions for those with depression, anxiety, and stress related conditions called InstantCBT The site supported at launch a variety of video platforms (including Skype, GChat, Yahoo, MSN as well as bespoke) and was aimed at lowering the waiting times for mental health patients. This is a Commercial, For-Profit business.
Sometimes the answer to the question “What is telemedicine?” is simply mobile medicine. It doesn’t require a heavy desktop computer or a lot of equipment. Activities that used to happen only in person are now easy to do on a smartphone. Modern consumers are accustomed to downloading apps and using their smartphones for simple transactions. The same is true for doctor visits. For example, with MDLIVE the patient simply opens the app and clicks to choose a doctor, with whom they can speak either by phone, instant message, or video.
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.
While widespread research on the effects of telemedicine is still relatively young, many studies do show positive results. When the Veterans Health Administration implemented telemedicine for past heart attack patients, they sawhospital readmissions due to heart failure drop by 51%. Another study on the Geisinger Health Plan showed that telemedicine reduced 30-day hospital readmissions by as much as 44%. And while telemedicine skeptics often claim virtual visits tend to be lower quality than in-person visits, a recent study of 8,000 patients who used telemedicine recorded no difference in care outcomes between in-person and virtual care.
An example of these limitations include the current American reimbursement infrastructure, where Medicare will reimburse for telehealth services only when a patient is living in an area where specialists are in shortage, or in particular rural counties. The area is defined by whether it is a medical facility as opposed to a patient's' home. The site that the practitioner is in, however, is unrestricted. Medicare will only reimburse live video (synchronous) type services, not store-and-forward, mhealth or remote patient monitoring (if it does not involve live-video). Some insurers currently will reimburse telehealth, but not all yet. So providers and patients must go to the extra effort of finding the correct insurers before continuing. Again in America, states generally tend to require that clinicians are licensed to practice in the surgery' state, therefore they can only provide their service if licensed in an area that they do not live in themselves.
Telemedicine has come a long way and there’s still so much room for growth. Currently, telemedicine is used to conference specialists on important appointments when patients have no other access, to provide diagnosis and prescriptions to remote areas where access to a physician isn’t always possible, and even to assist in invasive surgeries when a high caliber surgeon can’t reach a patient in time.
For developing countries, telemedicine and eHealth can be the only means of healthcare provision in remote areas. For example, the difficult financial situation in many African states and lack of trained health professionals has meant that the majority of the people in sub-Saharan Africa are badly disadvantaged in medical care, and in remote areas with low population density, direct healthcare provision is often very poor However, provision of telemedicine and eHealth from urban centres or from other countries is hampered by the lack of communications infrastructure, with no landline phone or broadband internet connection, little or no mobile connectivity, and often not even a reliable electricity supply.
There certainly has been a lot of excitement around how novel digital technology can change the patient-provider relationship. A recent survey found that 64% of patients are willing to have video visits with their physicians, and the telehealth industry is expected to expand 10-fold by 2018. Apps like Doctor on Demand could play a major role in bringing telehealth mainstream; notably, Richard Branson (the man behind the Virgin Group empire), has recently invested in Doctors On Demand. The biggest benefits of virtual health apps are in lowering costs and saving time, particularly for those who cannot access care nearby. In a disease like diabetes, where blood glucose data can be analyzed remotely, there certainly is a lot of potential for technology to improve care. For more information on the role of virtual health in diabetes, check out our conference pearls from AADE 2014. –AJW/KC/AB
Telehealth involves the distribution of health-related services and information via electronic information and telecommunication technologies. It allows long distance patient/clinician contact and care, advice, reminders, education, intervention, monitoring and remote admissions. As well as provider distance-learning; meetings, supervision, and presentations between practitioners; online information and health data management and healthcare system integration. Telehealth could include two clinicians discussing a case over video conference; a robotic surgery occurring through remote access; physical therapy done via digital monitoring instruments, live feed and application combinations; tests being forwarded between facilities for interpretation by a higher specialist; home monitoring through continuous sending of patient health data; client to practitioner online conference; or even videophone interpretation during a consult.
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). As such, states have the option/flexibility to determine whether (or not) to cover telemedicine; what types of telemedicine to cover; where in the state it can be covered; how it is provided/covered; what types of telemedicine practitioners/providers may be covered/reimbursed, as long as such practitioners/providers are "recognized" and qualified according to Medicaid statute/regulation; and how much to reimburse for telemedicine services, as long as such payments do not exceed Federal Upper Limits.