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.
There are a variety of payment models to fund telemedicine services. For example, some health systems offer telemedicine consultations as part of their regular care services, and payers charge patients based on insurance plans or government reimbursement schedules. In other cases, a patient's employer offers virtual care options as part of health insurance coverage premiums. Some people may opt to independently use a telemedicine vendor for a flat fee.
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.
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.
“Telepsychiatry, a subset of telemedicine, can involve providing a range of services including psychiatric evaluations, therapy (individual therapy, group therapy, family therapy), patient education and medication management,” American Psychiatry Association. Telepsychiatry has several advantages over traditional psychiatry including reduced stigma, reduced time off work, and better access to mental health specialty care that might not otherwise be available. Companies like Iris Health, Genoa Health, InSight, and MDLive are already delivering telepsychiatry platforms across the US.
The benefits posed by telehealth challenge the normative means of healthcare delivery set in both legislation and practice. Therefore, the growing prominence of telehealth is starting to underscore the need for updated regulations, guidelines and legislation which reflect the current and future trends of healthcare practices. Telehealth enables timely and flexible care to patients wherever they may be; although this is a benefit, it also poses threats to privacy, safety, medical licensing and reimbursement. When a clinician and patient are in different locations, it is difficult to determine which laws apply to the context. Once healthcare crosses borders different state bodies are involved in order to regulate and maintain the level of care that is warranted to the patient or telehealth consumer. As it stands, telehealth is complex with many grey areas when put into practice especially as it crosses borders. This effectively limits the potential benefits of telehealth.
“Although many definitions are similar, there are nuanced differences that reflect each organization's legislative intent and the population they serve,” the study concluded. “These definitions affect how telemedicine has been or is being applied across the healthcare landscape, reflecting the U.S. government's widespread and influential role in healthcare access and service delivery. The evidence base suggests that a common nomenclature for defining telemedicine may benefit efforts to advance the use of this technology to address the changing nature of healthcare and new demands for services expected as a result of health reform.”
Telemedicine can be beneficial to patients in isolated communities and remote regions, who can receive care from doctors or specialists far away without the patient having to travel to visit them. Recent developments in mobile collaboration technology can allow healthcare professionals in multiple locations to share information and discuss patient issues as if they were in the same place. Remote patient monitoring through mobile technology can reduce the need for outpatient visits and enable remote prescription verification and drug administration oversight, potentially significantly reducing the overall cost of medical care. Telemedicine can also facilitate medical education by allowing workers to observe experts in their fields and share best practices more easily.
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However, coverage, payment and other policy issues prevent full use of telehealth, remote patient monitoring and similar technologies. Medicare policy is particularly challenging, as it limits the geographic and practice settings where beneficiaries may receive services, as well as the types of services that may be provided via telehealth and the types of technology that may be used. Access to broadband services and state-level policy issues, such as licensure, also limit the ability to use telehealth.
The definition of telemedicine is somewhat controversial. Some definitions (such as the definition given by the World Health Organization) include all aspects of healthcare including preventive care. The American Telemedicine Association uses the terms telemedicine and telehealth interchangeably, although it acknowledges that telehealth is sometimes used more broadly for remote health not involving active clinical treatments.
“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.”
Wyoming Medicaid conducted a study measuring engagement and post-birth outcomes for patients who used a mobile health app called, “Due Date Plus.” Use of the app, which allowed women to record pregnancy milestones, access medical services, and find symptom-related information was associated with increased compliance with prenatal care and decreased occurrence of babies born with low birth weights.
Teledermatology – Teledermatology solutions are usually store-and-forward technologies that allow a general healthcare provider to send a patient photo of a rash, a mole, or another skin anomaly, for remote diagnosis. As frontline providers of care, primary care practitioners are often the first medical professionals to spot a potential problem. Teledermatology solutions lets PCPs continue to coordinate a patient’s care, and offer a quick answer on whether further examination is needed from a dermatologist.
^ 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.
Where telemedicine refers specifically to the practice of medicine via remote means, telehealth is a blanket term that covers all components and activities of healthcare and the healthcare system that are conducted through telecommunications technology. Healthcare education, wearable devices that record and transmit vital signs, and provider-to-provider remote communication are examples of telehealth activities and applications that extend beyond remote clinical care.
“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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While many conditions not on this list can be treated via telemedicine, these conditions are an especially good fit for telemedicine: Allergies and asthma, Chronic bronchitis, Conjunctivitis, UTIs, Low back pain, Otitis media, Rashes, Upper respiratory infections, Diabetes, Hypertension, Mental illness/behavioral health, Prevention and wellness services.
The company has made seven acquisitions: Consult A Doctor for $16.6 million cash in August 2013; AmeriDoc for $17.2 million in May 2014; and BetterHelp for $3.5 million in cash and a $1.0 million promissory note in January 2015. The company also announced and closed the acquisition of HealthiestYou in July 2016. Stat Health Services, Inc. (StatDoc) for $30.1 million, $13.3 million of cash and $16.8 million of Teladoc common stock (or 1,051,033 shares), net of cash acquired in June 2015 ; and HealthiestYou for $45 million in cash and 6.96 million shares of Teladoc's common stock in June 2016. In 2017, the company purchased Best Doctors, Inc., a provider of medical second opinions and a "pay-to-play" medical award listing. Most recently, Teladoc has acquired Advance Medical for $352 million. Advance Medical is a telemedicine company which has locations in Chile, Spain, and parts of Asia. It runs a virtual doctor service, called Global Care on Demand, which offers access to medical advice by phone or video by doctors located in eight main hubs around the world who speak more than 20 languages, and is targeted at expatriates.
Chiron Health believes that the right technology is the key to ensuring both patient satisfaction and provider reimbursement. Our easy-to-use, real-time telehealth solution gives providers the piece of mind that they will be able to deliver top-quality care, while increasing revenues and remaining compliant with HIPAA and other laws and regulations. It is perfectly suited for chronic disease management and follow-up visits.
Between the years 2000 and 2050, the number of people aged 60 years or older is expected to increase from 605 million to 2 billion. The rapidly increasing elderly patient population have become one of the main beneficiaries of telehealth. Companies like Comarch, American Well, and Global Med are building doctor video chat platforms targeted at the elderly.
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.
Telemedicine services can range widely by specialty. A surgeon might use telemedicine to do post-operation check-ins with patients, to make sure their wound is not infected. A gynecologist might use a live telemedicine solution to provide birth control counseling. An endocrinologist may do live videochats with patients to discuss recent lab results and answer questions.
But it wasn’t until the early 20th century that the general population started to these technologies, and imagine they could be applied to the field of medicine. In 1925, a cover illustration of the Science and Invention magazine featured an odd invention by Dr. Hugo Gernsback, called the “teledactyl.” The imagined tool would use spindly robot fingers and radio technology to examine a patient from afar, and show the doctor a video feed of the patient. While this invention never got past the concept stage, it predicted the popular telemedicine definition we think of today – a remote video consult between doctor and patient.
A question popular among organizations that want to implement telemedicine solutions is regarding how their physicians will be reimbursed. With telehealth regulations varying for each state and with payers setting up different policies, it is difficult to find consistency. What does remain consistent is that telemedicine is advancing and its becoming difficult for the key players to keep up.
Telehealth is a modern form of health care delivery. Telehealth breaks away from traditional health care delivery by using modern telecommunication systems including wireless communication methods. Traditional health is legislated through policy to ensure the safety of medical practitioners and patients. Consequently, since telehealth is a new form of health care delivery that is now gathering momentum in the health sector, many organizations have started to legislate the use of telehealth into policy. In New Zealand, the Medical Council has a statement about telehealth on their website. This illustrates that the medical council has foreseen the importance that telehealth will have on the health system and have started to introduce telehealth legislation to practitioners along with government.
Telehealth is defined as the delivery and facilitation of health and health-related services including medical care, provider and patient education, health information services, and self-care via telecommunications and digital communication technologies. Live video conferencing, mobile health apps, “store and forward” electronic transmission, and remote patient monitoring (RPM) are examples of technologies used in telehealth.