Telehealth in the News

Check out the latest in telehealth news and updates:

  • Medicare Advantage a Model for Savings, Panel Chairman Says

    Bloomberg BNA

    Medicare's fee-for-service program should be reformed to more closely resemble the Medicare Advantage program, the leader of an influential House panel said March 16. The traditional fee-for-service program is on a trajectory of higher costs and little innovation, while the Medicare Advantage program is based on market principles, House Ways and Means Health subcommittee chairman Pat Tiberi (R-Ohio) said at a hearing on preserving and strengthening Medicare. There is a substantial body of evidence suggesting that Medicare Advantage enrollees have lower utilization than enrollees in the traditional program, Katherine Baicker, a Harvard University health economics professor, testified. Medicare Advantage plans are private managed care organizations that contract with the federal government to coordinate care for Medicare beneficiaries who choose to enroll.


  • DC Proposes New Telemedicine Rules: What You Need to Know


    The District of Columbia Department of Health recently issued proposed rules that, if enacted, would constitute the first regulations on telemedicine practice standards in the nation’s capital. Other than a 2014 policy statement, D.C.’s current laws are silent as to telemedicine practice. Like 29 other states, D.C. does have a law requiring commercial health insurance companies to cover telemedicine-based services. The comment period for the proposed rules ends March 26. Interested telemedicine companies and health care providers should review these rules and consider contacting policymakers to make your voice heard regarding the practice standards. You can easily submit comments online at this link. Here are 8 takeaways health care providers, hospitals, and start-up companies looking to enter the D.C. market should consider if the proposed rules are implemented without changes:


  • Essentia Health Slashes Readmissions with Population Health Initiative, Telehealth

    Healthcare IT News

    First-mover health systems are already using telehealth services to successfully manage patient populations and lower healthcare costs. Take Essentia Health, for instance. The 16-hospital and 68-clinic system uses an Epic EHR and telehealth technology from Medtronic to focus on improving the health of congestive heart failure patients and enhancing the care surrounding this chronic health problem.Whereas 25 percent of congestive heart failure patients in the U.S. are readmitted to the hospital within 30 days, according the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Essentia said that less than 2 percent of those participating in its telehealth program return in that same timeframe.  Indeed, telemedicine technologies at Essentia and other tech-savvy hospitals can help fill in care gaps, monitor at-risk patients and extend services to patients who might not otherwise receive them.


  • Interstate Licensing Problematic for Telemedicine Market

    mHealth Intelligence

    The Interstate Medical Licensure Compact may be a way for private organizations to use telemedicine as a financial gain rather than a method for providing quality patient care, according to a press release by the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS). The compact legislation is a voluntary pact between states and organizations for streamlining licensing for qualified healthcare providers, who wish to provide care across multiple states. It aims to increase access to quality healthcare for patients in rural or underserved areas and foster the use of telemedicine technologies to connect medical experts with patients. The states of Alabama, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada, South Dakota, Utah, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming have already enacted the Compact while 26 other states have introduced the legislation.


  • Florida Passes New Telehealth Bill: Focus is Reimbursement

    The National Law Review

    After several hard-fought years of unsuccessful attempts, the Florida Legislature on Friday passed a new bill designed to set the stage for telehealth commercial insurance coverage in the Sunshine State. This is a great step forward for providers of telehealth services, as the bill will result in a formal report to the Governor and Legislature detailing – through evidence and surveys conducted by state agencies – an objective assessment of Florida’s telehealth landscape, with a particular focus on commercial insurance coverage. The bill is not an insurance coverage mandate, but it will equip Florida lawmakers with the information they need to move beyond speculation and make a truly informed decision on telehealth policy based on the actual market environment in the State.


  • Telemedicine Predicted in 1925


    The 1920s was an incredible decade of advancement for communications technology. Radio was finally being realized as a broadcast medium, talkies were transforming the film industry, and inventors were tinkering with the earliest forms of television. People of the 1920s recognized that big changes were ahead, and no one relished in guessing what those changes might be more than Hugo Gernsback. Gernsback was a pioneer in both radio and publishing, always pushing the boundaries of what the public might expect of their technological future. In 1905 (just a year after emigrating to the U.S. from Germany at the age of 20) Gernsback designed the first home radio set and started the first mail-order radio business in the world. The radio was called the Telimco Wireless and was advertised in magazines like Scientific American for $7.50 (about $180 today).


  • Telehealth Bill Brings Reimbursement Debate to Center Stage

    HealthData Management

    The forces may be aligning to expand reimbursement for telehealth—or at a minimum, to increase a national discussion on the issue. The Creating Opportunities Now for Necessary and Effective Care Technologies (CONNECT) for Health Act, proposed February 3 by Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), has strong bipartisan support and would expand Medicare telehealth services, improve care outcomes and help cut costs for patients and providers. Other bill sponsors include Senators Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Thad Cochran (R-Miss.), John Thune (R-SD), Mark Warner (D-Va.), and Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), The fact that telehealth has been crafted is not unusual; Congress has seen legislation offered in years past. What is unusual is the breadth of support for the bill—it has 67 professional organizations lining up in favor of it, including AARP, American Health Insurance Plans, the American Heart Association and Kaiser Permanente, to name a few.


  • Things are Looking App

    The Economist

    SAVILE ROW in London is best known for producing some of the world’s finest bespoke suits. But tucked away in a quiet corner of the same street is a firm that gives tailored health advice through a smartphone app. Your.MD uses artificial intelligence to understand natural-language statements such as “I have a headache” and ask pertinent follow-up questions. The app typifies a new approach to mobile health (also known as m-health): it is intelligent, personalised and gets cleverer as it gleans data from its users. There are now around 165,000 health-related apps which run on one or other of the two main smartphone operating systems, Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android. PwC, a consulting firm, forecasts that by 2017 such apps will have been downloaded 1.7 billion times. 


  • This Doctor Is Using Telemedicine To Treat Syrian Refugees

    Fast Company

    Dr. Rogy Masri is a doctor stationed at a settlement in Northern Lebanon. His team primarily treats Syrian refugees, who have flooded into Lebanon and other neighboring countries to escape escalating violence. It's not a job for the faint of heart; medications are in short supply, electricity routinely cuts out, and patients are suffering from all manner of horrible ailments from lice and rat bites to sexually transmitted infections.Masri, who is a volunteer with Doctors Without Borders, must make do with limited tools and equipment. When a patient walks in with a common ailment, he can typically send them away with a treatment. But that's not always the case. In an interview with Fast Company, he recalled a refugee walking into the clinic with a furiously red skin legion about the size of a quarter on his hand. This patient had not responded to a previous course of antibiotics. Masri, who is not a dermatologist and has little experience with exotic diseases, was stumped. He took out his smartphone and snapped a photo of the wound, which he uploaded to an app called Figure1. He noted in the caption that the patient was a 52-year-old male Syrian refugee with an infection that had been treated for a year. The patient experienced no pain or itchiness. The results of a biopsy were still "pending."


  • UC Health’s Breakthrough Into Leading-Edge Telehealth—and Telestroke

    Healthcare Informatics

    UC Health—the University of Cincinnati Academic Health Center—is a two-hospital integrated health system that encompasses the University of Cincinnati Medical Center in Cincinnati and West Chester Hospital in nearby West Chester, as well as the University of Cincinnati Physicians medical group, a post-acute care facility, and an ambulatory surgery center. UC Health, with $1.3 billion in annual revenues, was formed as an integrated health system in the fall of 2010, though Cincinnati Medical Center had been in existence for nearly 200 years. The health system, with over 1,000 beds, sees more than 35,000 inpatient admissions per year, and more than 120,000 ED visits. Meanwhile the University of Cincinnati Physicians encompasses more than 800 board-certified physicians, and is the largest physician group of its kind in the region. The integrated system is affiliated with the University of Cincinnati School of Medicine.


  • Digital Diagnosis: Telemedicine Puts Doctors in Schools


    When children get sick at school, it can be a big disruption. For the kids – they have to miss class – and for mom or dad, they have to leave work, try and schedule a last minute doctor's appointment, maybe even go to the emergency room. So, what if kids could see a pediatrician without having to leave school? That's the idea behind a telemedicine initiative run by Children's Health in Texas. The program has gone from reaching several hundred kids to thousands of kids.  While most second graders at Gilbert Elementary are sitting at lunch tables, sticking slices of cheese pizza in their mouths, Diego Montealvo is standing in the nurse's office, opening wide for a piece of metal.


  • Texas Board’s Ruling is a Victory for Telehealth

    mHealth Intelligence

    Telehealth’s value to mental health counseling scored an important victory Last week when a Texas regulatory board shot down new restrictions to distance counseling. In a case closely watched in dozens of states and at the national level, the Texas State Board of Examiners of Professional Counselors denied a proposal to require an in-person relationship between a therapist and a new patient before the therapist could use telehealth.


  • Telehealth Could Deliver Over $6B in Healthcare Savings Yearly

    HIT Consultant

    The global adoption of telehealth technologies will potentially allow governments to make substantial savings on healthcare, while delivering important medical services to both rural and under-served communities, according to business intelligence provider GBI Research. The company’s latest report* states that the telehealth market is being driven by the accelerated development of mobile technology and applications, a greater need for cost-effective healthcare, rising populations, and increased government funding.


  • Medicare Payments for Telehealth Increased 25% in 2015: What You Need to Know

    Health Care Law Today

    More good news on the telehealth reimbursement front: CMS reported its total 2015 payments for telehealth services under the Medicare program and it was a 25% increase over last year. This reflects how providers are successfully integrating telehealth services into their traditional health care delivery approaches, and are better realizing payment opportunities both within the Medicare FFS program and in other sources of revenue. We have written and advocated extensively on ways providers can (and should) look beyond solely Medicare to drive the financial growth of their telehealth offerings. It is encouraging to see more providers taking the time to understand the reimbursement opportunities and submit covered claims for payment.


  • Four Reasons Why Telemedicine Can Improve Patient Engagement

    Hospitals & Health Networks

    Many providers are struggling to find a way to increase patient engagement, and any methods they employ must overcome both real and perceived barriers to care while controlling delivery costs. Telemedicine, a rapidly growing sector of the health care economy, may help.