Telehealth in the News

Check out the latest in telehealth news and updates:

  • For Telehealth and mHealth, Value-Based Care Takes Time to Work Out

    mHealth Intelligence

    Healthcare providers are gradually coming to realize that telehealth can be a key component in the transition to value-based care. But not everyone’s definition of value will be the same. With roughly six out of 10 U.S. health systems now using telehealth, it’s safe to say there are more doctors using new technology than shying away from it. But as Danielle Louder, program director for the Northeast Telehealth Resource Center, points out, each is using technology differently. One may be looking to expand a behavioral health platform to residents in rural counties, on islands or even cruise ships and oil drilling platforms. Another might be using an mHealth-based remote monitoring platform to connect with a population of diabetic patients.

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  • Rural Schools turn to mHealth - and the NFL - for Concussion Management Help

    mHealth Intelligence

    A two-year telemedicine project to link student-athletes in 19 rural school districts with Houston Methodist Hospital’s Concussion Center could be a model for a statewide program – and a model for other states as well. The program, funded by the NFL’s Houston Texas and supported by GE Healthcare, will send an athletic trainer equipped with a Microsoft Surface tablet and the imPACT (Immediate Post-Concussion Assessment and Cognitive Testing) Applications app to a school that reports a possible concussion. The trainer will then coordinate a concussion diagnosis via video-consult with clinicians at Houston Methodist. “Replacing an office visit with a telemedicine visit can allow the student-athlete (to) begin the correct treatment plan sooner and safely return to school and sports faster,” Greg Grissom, vice president of corporate development for the Houston Texans, said in a press release. “Many student-athletes in southeast Texas are two to three hours from a concussion specialist, so this telemedicine program gives Houston Methodist a chance to provide the same level of concussion care as our players receive.” 

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  • New AHA/ASA Statement on Telemedicine in Stroke

    Medscape

    The American Heart Association (AHA)/American Stroke Association (ASA) has released a new scientific statement on quality measures and outcomes for use of telemedicine in stroke. The document — which is endorsed by the American Academy of Neurology and the American Telemedicine Association — was published online November 3 in Stroke. "Telestroke has evolved over the last decade and is now used quite extensively to take care of acute stroke patients in the US and the rest of the world," Lawrence R. Wechsler, MD, chair of the writing committee, commented to Medscape Medical News. "Because of this we felt it was time to bring out this statement, which provides a structure against which hospitals can measure the quality of their telestroke programs so patients can be assured of getting the quality they deserve. These are suggestions from a group of experts that will help anyone involved in a telestroke program to run the best service possible."

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  • Survey Finds Strong Support for Telehealth from Mothers

    mHealth Intelligence

    The best way to increase telehealth adoption is to get Mom’s approval. A survey of more than 500 mothers by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Georgia and telehealth provider LiveHealth Online finds that every one of them wants round-the-clock access to doctors and other healthcare offerings. And almost 80 percent say they want to learn more about telemedicine to help deal with a non-emergency medical issue. Moms see telehealth as a more convenient alternative to the doctor’s office. Almost 65 percent said it’s a challenge to take a sick child to the doctor’s office during the school year, with seven out every 10 mothers spending more the two hours out of a busy day on such a visit. 

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  • Companies Pledge to Share mHealth Data to Reduce Deaths

    mHealth Intelligence

    mHealth companies are taking notice of an international effort to share once-siloed data and reduce preventable patient deaths. Earlier this month, Medtronic announced that it would contribute its de-identified data to the Patient Safety Movement Foundation, a four-year-old organization launched my medical device maker Masimo. The pledge comes with a $5 million donation to the cause and a seat on the board of directors for Medtronic CEO Omar Ishrak. More than 60 healthcare companies have signed the pledge, including IBM Watson, GE Healthcare, Phillips Healthcare, Airstrip, Cerner, STANLEY Healthcare, Sotera Wireless, EarlySense, welch Allyn and Zoll Medical. Healthcare providers don’t join the organization but commit to efforts to reduce medical errors, such as sepsis-related deaths. “By signing this Open Data Pledge, Medtronic pledges to allow access to all available acute clinical data generated by their products used in hospitals and in outpatient practice settings to interested parties that want to use them to help minimize preventable patient complications and death,” the Ireland-based company said in its press release. “When companies share the data of their products, it provides researchers and entrepreneurs with critical information to develop and accelerate solutions to improve patient care. This information includes predictive algorithms that can notify clinicians and Patients of possible dangerous trends – allowing for intervention earlier.”

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  • Mississippi Steps Back from New Telehealth Rules

    mHealth Intelligence

    Mississippi lawmakers have decided to leave in place telehealth regulations that permit phone-based encounters, despite threats earlier this year to introduce legislation that would mandate that video be part of the platform.
    Mississippi State Medical Association President Lee Voulters, MD, recently told the Mississippi Business Journal that it would not pursue an amendment to the state’s current laws during the next legislative session. As it stands, the state defines telemedicine as “using electronic communication, information technology or other means between a physician in one location and a patient in another location with or without an intervening healthcare provider.”  The MSMA and several legislators had fought a bill earlier this year that would have clarified the vague wording and allow physicians to choose whether to meet first-time patients in person, via video or through a phone call. They’d argued that a phone-based consult should not be allowed to establish the doctor-patient relationship, and that video should be mandated. But Voulters recently said the MSMA wouldn’t pursue any new legislation at this time.  

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  • Sides in telemedicine battle call for a cease-fire

    Mississippi Business Journal

    It looks like the sides in the battle over telemedicine in Mississippi have called a truce of sorts.

    Neither Teladoc Inc., the leading private provider of the service in the state and the country, nor the Mississippi State Medical Association, which represents the majority of physicians in the state, says it plans to introduce legislation in the upcoming session.

    In the 2016 session, Teladoc-backed legislation sailed through the House, only to stall out in a Senate committee.

    Dr. Dan Edney, then-president of the association, used strong rhetoric to describe telemedicine without a mandatory visual component.

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  • Telemedicine is Becoming More Widespread

    The Baltimore Sun

    Aided by his wife, Peter Schon wrapped a gray cuff around his upper forearm to take his blood pressure. Within seconds, thanks to wireless technology, his reading popped up on a computer screen in his home near where he sat in a brown leather recliner. A couple of minutes later, the phone rang. On the other end was a registered nurse from a skilled nursing facility, who had gotten a message that Schon's blood pressure was elevated. She wanted to make sure the Baltimore retiree was feeling okay and to determine if she needed to intervene before his high blood pressure turned into a serious health problem. Schon, 80, suffers from a variety of illnesses that keep him homebound, but telemedicine enables nurses to monitor him virtually. The technology-driven remote monitoring and treatment has him — as he put it — living in tomorrowland. He could be right. In just a few years, telemedicine went from a promising, but little-used form of health care thought to be useful mostly in rural areas with few doctors to one that is growing rapidly as the technology improved, insurance coverage expanded and pressure grows to keep people out of hospitals.

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  • Emory’s eICU Platform Takes Telehealth to a New Time Zone

    mHealth Intelligence

    Emory Healthcare is testing a telehealth platform that ensures patients in ICUs at any location and any time have immediate access to a clinician at the top of his or her game. To do this, the Atlanta-based health system is partnering with Royal Philips and Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia, to create an eICU network that ensures that ICUs in the Emory network are staffed at all times by Emory doctors and nurses on normal daytime shifts.  If successful, the program could someday lead to the creation of a global network of ICUs, all connected by a telehealth platform. “There are very few people who are truly nocturnal,” says Timothy G. Buchman, MD, PhD, director of the Emory Critical Care Center and chief of the health systems critical care service, who developed and launched the ongoing six-month project. More importantly, he says, ICU staff need to be top-notch and fully awake because they’re dealing with the sickest of the sick, and the most complicated patients in a hospital. The project puts a couple of healthcare theories to the test. One is that the level and quality of care drop during a hospital’s off-hours, when clinicians aren’t at their best or most awake. The second is that off-hours shifts are often staffed by young and less experienced doctors and nurses, those who need the extra hours or don’t have the seniority to avoid them. 

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  • AARP Pennsylvania Hails Governor's Signature on Bill Expanding Telehealth Options for State Residents

    PR Newswire

    Governor Tom Wolf's signature on legislation that will allow licensed physicians in one state to treat patients in other states via telehealth technologies was praised today by AARP Pennsylvania. The enactment of HB 1619 makes Pennsylvania the 18th state to join the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact, which encourages physicians to provide care both in-person or through telehealth technologies in multiple states.  The legislation was sponsored by Rep. Jesse Topper (R-78). AARP Pennsylvania State Director Bill Johnston-Walsh said improving the availability of telehealth services is especially important in Pennsylvania, which includes both the nation's third-largest rural population and fourth-oldest population. "This new law will help older adults and those living in rural or underserved areas use telehealth technologies to access an expanded network of physicians when those providers are unavailable in their area or when getting out of the house is difficult," he said.    Johnston-Walsh added the new law will also greatly benefit Pennsylvania's 1.6 million family caregivers.    

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  • AMA, AAFP lobbied against part of telemedicine provision in Senate bill

    MobiHealth News

    The American Medical Association spent some portion of the $3.87 million it spent on lobbying this quarter trying to kill part of a telemedicine provision in a Senate bill, as did the American Association of Family Physicians, which spent a total of $1.46 million. Politico broke the news. The bill in question, S-2943, is a lengthy appropriations bill for the Department of Defense. In section 705, it allows for the military's TRICARE program to reimburse for telehealth, including mobile health applications. The AMA and AAFP generally support the provision -- their objection to the bill is limited to one subsection of 705, which reads "For purposes of reimbursement, licensure, professional liability, and other purposes relating to the provision of telehealth services under this section, providers of such services shall be considered to be furnishing such services at their location and not at the location of the patient." 

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  • Telehealth Reimbursement and Its Interstate Licensure Problem

    mHealth Intelligence

    Telehealth’s great promise lies in allowing a doctor to treat a patient no matter where each are located. One of the biggest challenges to that platform is licensing. A clinician must apply for a license in each state in which he or she wants to practice. For multi-state health systems, telehealth programs and specialists who work across the country, that means holding dozens of licenses and spending tens of thousands of dollars to keep them up to date. Interstate licensure looks to solve those problems. Licensing compacts seek to make it easier for clinicians to practice in multiple states, offering an expedited licensing process while keeping each state’s right to regulate its clinicians and take punitive action, if necessary. The most noteworthy is the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact launched in 2014 by the Washington D.C.-based Federation of State Medical Boards, a non-profit representing more than 70 medical and osteopathic boards. The FSMB’s compact, which reached its threshold for implementation in 2015, now counts 17 states as members, with another two states awaiting action on legislation. 

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  • Payers urge CBO to Give Telemedicine a Fair Shake

    mHealth Intelligence

    Nearly a dozen national health plans have asked the Congressional Budget Office to pay more attention to telemedicine when scoring Congressional bills on Medicare. In a letter to CBO Director Keith Hall, 11 health plans say telemedicine programs serve “as an important tool in increasing consumer access to high quality, affordable healthcare, improving patient satisfaction and reducing costs.” Yet federal legislation has thrown up roadblocks to the expansion of telemedicine platforms, especially in Medicare Advantage programs. “While many of us are embracing telemedicine in our offerings outside of Medicare Advantage (MA), we want to clearly note that the barriers in Medicare hamper our ability to offer these services to our MA customers,” the letter states. “We have worked closely with [the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services] to find ways to provide telemedicine through MA plans, but can only do so as a supplemental benefit.”  “Our options are also limited without Congressional action to reduce barriers in the Medicare fee-for-service benefit,” the letter continues. “Congressional action depends, in part, on a budget impact analysis from your office.” This isn’t the first time the CBO has been asked to pay attention to telehealth. 

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  • Payers Push Congress to Expand Medicare Telemedicine

    Health Leaders Media

    Eleven of the nation's largest commercial plans offer to share their data and experience on cost-savings and improved access to care with the Congressional Budget Office, as Congress crafts legislation to expand telemedicine within Medicare.  Commercial health insurance companies are offering to share their data on the value of telemedicine to federal actuaries who are estimating the cost of expanding remote coverage under Medicare. "We view telemedicine as an important tool in increasing consumer access to high quality, affordable healthcare, improving patient satisfaction and reducing costs" 11 commercial payers said in a letter this week to Congressional Budget Office Director Keith Hall. "We believe our experience in the commercial market can inform estimates of the impact of policy changes in Medicare." Telemedicine in Medicare is reimbursable only on under a narrow set of circumstances, but Congress is examining ways to expand it. Any legislation to expand Medicare telemedicine that comes with a price tag attached will require scoring by the CBO, which has limited experience in estimating the value and cost of telemedicine because of the federal government's limited exposure. 

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  • How Telehealth Can Enable Big Declines in Readmission Rates

    HealthData Management

    High readmission rates are a $17 billion problem across the U.S. for hospital administrators. What’s even more alarming is that a portion of 30-day readmissions are preventable. According to a recent University of California-San Francisco (UCSF) study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, 27 percent of readmissions could be avoided. This study shows that hospitals must improve communications between patients, physicians, hospitals and primary care providers, while providing better post-discharge resources. Upon discharge, if a patient is readmitted within 30 days, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) requires payment from the hospital because of the guidelines of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which penalizes preventable readmissions. However, the burden of keeping abreast of each patient’s unique recovery isn’t an easy task for both providers and hospitals.Imagine that, as a patient, you are sent home from the hospital with a stack of discharge papers. Are you more likely to read every sheet carefully or to put those information sheets in a corner, never to be looked at again? Solutions to the readmissions problem are emerging in today’s market, and they are designed to support the management and monitoring of every patient’s unique recovery during their most critical time post-discharge from the hospital—the first 30 days. 

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