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.
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.
When the American National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), began plans to send astronauts into space, the need for Telemedicine became clear. In order to monitor their astronauts in space, telemedicine capabilities were built into the spacecraft as well as the first spacesuits. Additionally, during this period, telehealth and Telemedicine were promoted in different countries especially the United States and Canada.
On the eve of its July 1 IPO, the company was billed as the first and largest telehealth platform in the United States. The number of visits facilitated in 2014 was 299,000. By 2016, its visit count had grown to 952,000. The company had 8.1 million members in 2014 and 10.6 by the end of the first quarter of 2015. By the end of the first quarter of 2015, the company has 4000 clients including 160 of the Fortune 1000 companies. Two years later, the company had 7500 clients and 220 Fortune 1000 companies.
Emergency room and urgent care environments are known for long wait times, overcrowding and even staffing shortages. This leads to additional stress being added to not only the patient, but the staff too. With tele-triage, patients can arrive to an emergency department and be seen by an off-site physician using video conferencing software. The off-site physician can order tests or determine a treatment plan, which moves patients through the system faster. Cases that are more severe can be moved to the next level of patient care and others can be discharged.
Monitoring center links are used for one type of telemedicine – remote patient monitoring. This type of telemedicine link creates a digital connection between a patient’s house and a remote monitoring facility, so that a patient’s medical data can be measured at home and transmitted electronically to a distant medical monitoring facility. These links usually take the form of internet, SMS, or telephone connections. They’re most commonly used for monitoring of pulmonary, cardiac, or fetal medical data.
With telehealth allowing physicians to expand their coverage area, there have been questions regarding interstate medical licensing. Interstate medical licensing permits more physicians to serve individuals in underserved and rural areas, but currently, only a few states offer this. The Interstate Medical Licensure Compact helps streamline the licensing process for physicians that are interested in practising in participating states.
As various parties seek more efficient ways to provide care at less cost to the patient, telemedicine's role has grown. It is often a time-saving way for a consumer to see and speak to a clinician for minor and non-urgent medical needs instead of going to a primary care physician's office or emergency department. In recent years, many states have passed laws that make telemedicine easier to practice, and federal health regulators are also exploring ways to further grant Medicare reimbursements for telemedicine services.
Like most telemedicine tools, remote patient monitoring solutions make it easier for patients and physicians to maintain close communication. Many RPM solutions record and transmit a patient’s medical data automatically, generating a regular report for the physician. In some cases, this medical data is transmitted to a team of health monitoring professionals who are responsible for flagging any warning signs and sending them on to the physician, if needed.
While the loss of an in-person human interaction is often cited by skeptics of telemedicine, 76% of patients said they care more about access to healthcare than having an in-person interaction with their doctors. Also, only 16% if surveyed patients would rather go to the ER for minor conditions if they could instead use telemedicine for treatment. With the ongoing shortage of patient slots open with overburdened primary care doctors, these stat says a lot about patients’ willingness to try out telemedicine.
"The awareness piece is a big problem," admits Ian Tong, a physician and the chief medical officer at Doctor On Demand, an app that offers smartphone consultations for $75. Tong believes that part of the problem is the branding of the term "telemedicine," which isn't particularly descriptive, so he's opting to use the term "video visits" instead when he talks to patients about it.
Teladoc, founded in 2002, was initially slow to catch on. But after it grew revenues by 100% in 2013 and with sales set to double again this year, investors have come running: The company just closed a $50 million Series F fundraising round, bringing its total funding to roughly $100 million, according to CEO Jason Gorevic, who joined the company in 2009. (Gorevic even had to turn away investors as the recent funding round was oversubscribed, he says.)
Even the American Telemedicine Association also considers telemedicine and telehealth to be interchangeable. “While the term telehealth is sometimes used to refer to a broader definition of remote healthcare that does not always involve clinical services, (the) ATA uses the terms in the same way one would refer to medicine or health in the common vernacular,” the organization states.
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.