Telehealth in the News

Check out the latest in telehealth news and updates:

  • Telemedicine: Reimbursement in fee-for-service, quality models

    Urology Times

    Payment under a risk management system or alternative payment model is based on an overall cost borne by the group or institution receiving the contract. A focus on overall costs borne by the caregiving group will have to include at least some focus on outcomes under the majority of payment systems that have appeared under this model.In these models, if telemedicine proves to be cheaper to provide and can demonstrate at least clinical equivalence, it is hard to envision that groups will not adopt telemedicine to the greatest extent allowed. Groups are already using telephone triage and follow-up to ensure compliance with prescribed treatment.These groups will be forced to some degree to prove the efficacy of the services provided. Collecting data on what works and how much can be provided in an effort to grow the services provided with lower expenses will be important for marketing, patient buy-in, and safety measures. 

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  • The Timely Promise of Telehealth

    University of South Carolina

    Your 2-year-old wakes up feverishly hot with a chest rash — early Sunday morning when the pediatrician’s office is closed. But after answering a few questions online from a health care professional and texting a photo of the rash, a diagnosis is made and a prescription dispensed. Welcome to SmartExam, a service offered by Palmetto Health-USC Medical Group and one of several examples of telehealth’s arrival on the health care scene. In addition to 24/7 health care consults, the power of broadband is making its way into health education, psychiatric evaluation and stroke assessment. It’s one of the many ways clinical faculty at the University of South Carolina are using technology and innovation to change the way health care is delivered and improve the wellbeing of the state’s rural population. “Telehealth is changing the lives of patients and health care providers, allowing more collaborations and partnerships in real time to improve overall health and quality of life,” says Dr. Meera Narasimhan, professor and chair of clinical neuropsychiatry and behavioral science and associate provost for health sciences at the University of South Carolina.

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  • Telemedicine Saves Patients Time, Money

    University of California, Davis

    As a national leader in the use of telemedicine — broadly defined as videoconferencing between patients and clinicians in different geographic locations — UC Davis analyzed its own clinical records over the past 18 years to precisely measure the benefits of enabling patients to remain in their hometowns while meeting with physicians working at the university’s Sacramento campus. According to the researchers, by using telemedicine for clinical appointments and consultations, its patients avoided travel distances that totaled more than 5 million miles. Those patients also saved nearly nine years of travel time and about $3 million in travel costs. Savings estimates were based on patient travel to a telemedicine center near their home compared to the travel that would have been required had they come to UC Davis Health in Sacramento for care. The study also calculated the amount of greenhouse emissions that were likely avoided by reduced miles driven. 

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  • Tapping Telehealth for Complex Cases

    Modern Healthcare

    Shortly after Thanksgiving last year, Ron Cobbley woke up with a stiff neck. Ibuprofen did nothing to help the South Jordan, Utah, resident. Soon the pain became so intense that Cobbley headed for the emergency room at Intermountain Healthcare's Riverton Hospital. Several MRIs and CT scans later, Cobbley's doctors noticed a staph infection nestled where his collarbone meets his sternum. The doctors ordered surgery. While recovering, Cobbley, 74, turned on his hospital room's high-definition television, outfitted with a zoom camera, speakers and microphones, to meet with Dr. Todd Vento, Intermountain's medical director of infectious diseases telehealth services. Vento conducted the post-operative evaluation from his office at the system's Intermountain Medical Center in Murray, Utah, its flagship campus. He examined Cobbley's incisions and spoke with the local care team to discuss medications. 

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  • Defining Digital Health: What Makes an ‘Effective’ mHealth Program?

    mHealth Intelligence

    How does the healthcare system measure the effectiveness of a digital health program? The Connected Health Initiative, which last year sought a consensus definition for asynchronous telemedicine, is ready to tackle more confusing mHealth concepts. At the top of the list is a better understanding of how healthcare defines digital health success. “We want to dig down to how the process of medicine is done,” says Morgan Reed, executive director of the Washington, D.C.-based coalition, a two-year-old offshoot of ACT | The App Association that’s been tasked with exploring the intersection of healthcare and technology. “A lot of that work is going to be definitional.” Reed says the healthcare ecosystem is rife with words and phrases that mean different things to different stakeholders – mHealth, mobile health, digital health, connected care, eHealth, telehealth and telemedicine, just for starters. 

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  • At the Intersection of Cancer Treatment and Technology, It’s More Evolution Than Revolution

    MedCityNews

    For the first time at SXSW, a series of panel discussions in the health track zoomed in on cancer — Connect to End Cancer. The themes that dominated tended to be the role of technology such as telemedicine and data from connected devices, the role of 5G technology and technology’s shortcomings. But concerns over what Trump’s FDA nominee will do with the FDA cast a long shadow over parts of the discussion. Here were some of the more interesting conversation points across a couple of the panel discussions I attended.
    Telemedicine, telehealth and the impact of 5G: Most people don’t think of cancer treatment and telemedicine intersecting but as Rebecca Kaul, Houston-based MD Anderson Chief Innovation Officer noted, cancer center patients tend to have a varied geographical base. “We think telemedicine is highly important — two-thirds of our patients come from outside of Texas.”

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  • Senator’s Priority Bill Could Require Coverage for Telehealth Services

    York News Times

    Each year senators are given the opportunity to select one bill to designate as their personal priority. This year, the bill I chose to designate is LB92, a bill to require certain health carriers to provide coverage for certain services delivered through telehealth. LB92 advanced out of committee unanimously and has no fiscal note, meaning it will not have a cost burden on the state of Nebraska. Under this legislation, health insurance companies are required to cover any service offered through telehealth that is already covered for an in-person consultation. Currently, even though many doctors have embraced telehealth technology, some have been reluctant to utilize it because they do not know whether insurers will reimburse them. This reimbursement policy is already in place for state Medicaid, and it only makes sense that we would extend it to those covered by individual or group health insurance plans.

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  • NC Legislation Backs Reimbursements for Telemedicine

    Winston-Salem Journal

    A requirement that insurers provide standard coverage and reimbursements for telemedicine and other digital services was introduced in a bipartisan House bill last week. Rep. Donny Lambeth, R-Forsyth, is the primary sponsor of House Bill 283. Telemedicine has grown in demand in recent years, particularly aimed at individuals who live in rural and suburban areas and/or who have difficulty getting to an urban hospital campus. It is defined for the bill’s purpose as “the use of interactive audio, video or other electronic media for the purposes of diagnosis, consultation or treatment.” That includes emails, phones and texts. The bill has been sent to the House Health committee. If approved there, it would go the House Insurance committee. The bill would be effective Oct. 1 if signed into law and apply to insurance contracts issued, renewed and amended after that date. 

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  • mHealth-based Workplace Wellness Programs Face Congressional Scrutiny

    mHealth Intelligence

    A bill quietly moving through Congress could have a significant impact on workplace wellness programs that use digital health tools. Opponents say HR 1313, the Preserving Employee Wellness Programs Act, could undermine mHealth-based employee wellness programs and severely hamper digital health research by stripping away protections against the improper use of an employee’s genetic information. Proponents of the bill, meanwhile, say the legislation would “untangle conflicting, burdensome and unnecessary rules that are currently jeopardizing the ability of employers to offer quality wellness programs and the opportunity for employees to earn significant savings on their health insurance premiums while also improving their health.” On its face, HR 1313 would enable employers to include genetic testing as part of a workplace wellness program, as long as the tests are voluntary. Opponents say the bill would strip away protections put in place by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) on the collection of digital health information about employees and their families through wellness programs.

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  • Why the Utilization Conversation in Telemedicine is Bigger Than Dollars and Cents

    MobiHealth News

    A study published in Health Affairs and conducted by the RAND Corporation made a big splash this week with a bold claim: That telemedicine doesn’t actually reduce healthcare costs because the increased convenience leads to increased utilization, which ultimately costs more than in-person care would have. The study looked at claims data from a cohort of 300,000 employees with access to Teladoc through their employer. Researchers compared a cohort of telemedicine users to a cohort of non-telemedicine users and found that in the telemedicine users, visits to primary care doctors barely decreased, meaning that the Teladoc visits were mostly additive (visits that otherwise would not have occurred), rather than substitutive (visits that otherwise would have occurred in person). They found that 88 percent of visits were additive, and only 12 percent replaced in-person visits. The result: telemedicine cost the payer $45 per patient more than a plan without telemedicine would have.

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  • D.C. Bill Would Make it Easier for Doctors to Practice Across State Lines

    Washington Business Journal

    It could be easier for doctors from outside the District to practice medicine in D.C. — largely using telemedicine — in the future if a bill to be introduced Tuesday by D.C. Councilman Vincent Gray ultimately passes. The measure would authorize the District to join a compact of 17 states created by the Federation of State Medical Boards that have agreed to standardize and expedite the process for licensing physicians from other jurisdictions that are also members of the group. Mayor Vincent Gray is proposing two pieces of health care legislation on Tuesday. Mayor Vincent Gray is proposing two pieces of health care legislation on Tuesday. The goal is to make it easier for physicians outside D.C.'s 68 square miles to provide care through telemedicine to District residents, particularly those in medically underserved areas, said Gray, D-Ward 7, who chairs the council's health committee. Allowing practitioners to obtain an expedited D.C. license will supplement the physician workforce and increase access, Gray said. "A lot of people mistakenly view telemedicine as a rural solution, thinking that the practice is only useful when long distances separate providers from patients," Gray said. 

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  • Maine Compass: Telehealth Can Save Lives, Money

    CentralMaine.com

    There is a lot of fuss about how health care will be paid for these days. Here in Maine, however, there is a problem that goes beyond paying for health care — it’s how to access services in the first place. A potential solution to a growing need for health care is the use of telehealth or telemedicine. If we want a healthy, safe Maine, we need to take steps to ensure that this solution is available statewide. Maine is one of the most rural states in the nation; 11 of our 16 counties are identified as “rural.” Long distances and a lack of transportation limit access to health care services for a large percentage of Mainers. Directly related to our ruralness, we have a shortage of health care providers and health care services; 277 of our towns are designated as Medically Underserved Areas, and every county in the state has at least one town that is underserved. Additionally, there are 68 Health Professional Shortage Areas (HPSAs) in the state. To put these numbers in perspective, approximately 133,000 Mainers are unable to get the medical care they need; this is more than the entire population of Kennebec County. Because of a shortage of providers, many Mainers have no source of primary care. Emergency rooms, therefore, serve as a catch-all for the management and treatment of preventable illness. 

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  • Telemedicine Ambulance May Deliver Faster Stroke Care

    Medical Xpress

    When experiencing a stroke, people who are brought to the hospital in an ambulance with a CT scanner and telemedicine capabilities are evaluated and treated nearly two times faster than people taken in a regular ambulance, according to a study published in the March 8, 2017, online issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology. An ischemic stroke is the most common kind of stroke, when a blood clot blocks blood flow to the brain. It can often be treated with intravenous tissue plasminogen activator (IV tPA), a clot-busting drug, but the drug ideally should be given within four-and-a-half hours of the start of symptoms to improve chances of recovery. "The sooner someone is treated for stroke, the better chance they have for survival and an improved recovery," said study author Muhammad S. Hussain, MD, of the Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland, Ohio, and member of the American Academy of Neurology. "Telemedicine makes it possible for a neurologist to see a stroke patient, and possibly treat them, before they even arrive at the hospital." 

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  • Virginia Passes Proactive Legislation to Protect Telemedicine for Eye Care

    MobiHealth News

    In stark contrast to the law that past last year in South Carolina, the state of Virginia has proactively passed a pro-telemedicine bill that protects the rights of optometrists and ophthalmologists to see patients and issue prescriptions via telemedicine. The law, signed late last month, states that "for the purpose of a provider prescribing spectacles, eyeglasses, lenses, or contact lenses to a patient, a provider shall establish a bona fide provider-patient relationship by an examination (i) in person, (ii) through face-to-face interactive, two-way, real-time communication, or (iii) store-and-forward technologies." “Today, the Commonwealth struck a good balance,” Virginia State Delegate Peter Farrell, one of the sponsors of the legislation, said in a statement last month. “We have signaled to entrepreneurs that their ideas and innovations are welcome in our state. As we empower doctors to utilize these new telemedicine options that will increase access to healthcare and lower costs, we have also made sure that the health and safety of our residents comes first.” The law was the result of lobbying by telemedicine eye care companies, who have undertaken lobbying in response to local optometry and ophalmology industry groups seeking legislation to oppose them.  

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  • Vermont Health Information Exchange Adds Telehealth Component

    mHealth Intelligence

    An agreement between the Vermont Health Information Exchange (VHIE) and two healthcare organizations that provide telehealth services in the state now give providers connected to the statewide network access to telemonitoring data. In a recent announcement, the operators of VHIE — Vermont Information Technology Leaders, Inc. (VITL) —that Central Vermont Home Health & Hospice (CVHHH) and the Visiting Nurse Association of Chittendon and Grand Isle Counties (VNA) have connected their telemonitoring program and systems for treating patients with complex health conditions to the state HIE. As a result, Vermont providers can now access data on complex disease states such as heart and respiratory conditions. Telemonitors provide patients a way to measure and record their vital signs daily from home using a touchscreen tablet. The information is then wirelessly transmitted to nurses monitoring the information for changes, giving patients a sense of empowerment around their health. 

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