Telehealth in the News

Check out the latest in telehealth news and updates:

  • Texas Drops Appeal Against Teladoc Lawsuit

    Modern Healthcare

    Texas and its state medical board on Monday withdrew their appeal that questioned whether Teladoc could challenge the state's controversial telemedicine restrictions. The Texas Medical Board said its board on Friday voted to withdraw the appeal before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit. The board had vehemently opposed Teladoc's suit that alleges the state's telemedicine rules violate federal antitrust laws, launching an unusual appeal after a lower court refused to dismiss Teladoc's case. The board's proposed rule requires physicians to meet with patients in person before they can treat them remotely, or another provider must be physically present during the first telemedicine appointment to establish a doctor-patient relationship. Lewisville, Texas-based Teladoc maintains that the board violated the law because federal antitrust laws require the board to be supervised by the state in order to create the rules, which the company maintains will affect access to care. According to the board, the restrictions are to ensure quality of care. But the U.S. Justice Department and the Federal Trade Commission recently took Teladoc's side in the dispute, telling the 5th Circuit the state rules were anticompetitive and lacked appropriate review.  The federal agencies encouraged the appeals court to reject the medical board's appeal and maintained the underlying rule should be eliminated.

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  • Telemedicine Closes the Gap in Specialty Referrals

    mHealth Intelligence

    A San Diego-based health system is expanding its telemedicine platform after a four-month pilot showed that more than 60 percent of patient visits requiring a specialist consult could be done virtually, without the need for an extra visit. North County Health Services, a not-for-profit community health provider with 13 clinics around the city, found that 65 percent of its patient visits could be augmented by AristaMD’s eConsult platform, giving patients and their doctors near-real-time access to a specialist. Through that collaboration, doctor, patient and specialist were able to successfully conclude the initial visit without the need for a second appointment. Denise Gomez, MD, clinical director of adult medicine at NCHS, says the telemedicine platform not only saves the patient a lot time, effort and worry, but guides the clinician toward a better diagnosis. 

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  • WorldClinic Founder: Telehealth Needs a New Revenue Model

    mHealth Intelligence

    Why is telehealth struggling to find its footing? Dan Carlin blames the billing code. “We’re still in an age where the vast majority of healthcare still exists in billing codes,” says the founder and CEO of WorldClinic, a New Hampshire-based concierge care service. “This encourages poor health,” with codes that address and pay for crises instead of wellness.”  “And this crazy world of connected healthcare is not supported by current revenue models,” Carlin says. “We need new models.” Carlin, who’s giving the luncheon keynote at Xtelligent Media’s Value-Based Care Summit on November 15 in Boston, knows a thing or two about the “crazy world” of connected care. A former Naval officer and ER doctor who’d treated “the poorest of the poor” in far-flung regions of the world, he launched WorldClinic in 1998 with an eye toward providing real-time healthcare to remote people who could pay for it – starting with, interestingly enough, sailors on round-the-world races and cruises. Equipping each with a “prescription medical kit,” or PMK, filled with common medications and medical devices, the sailors were promised a real-time link via telehealth to a WorldClinic doctors who could diagnose their health problems and prescribe care. In time, those sailors were joined by rich and elite families who wanted instant access to healthcare no matter where they were in the world; in many cases those families headed large corporations whose executives and board members wanted that type of access for themselves and their families.

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  • Using Telehealth, mHealth to Advance Value-Based Care

    mHealth Intelligence

    Healthcare’s march toward value-based care is complicated. And with roughly three-quarters of the industry still focused on volume, it’s safe to say the revolution isn’t happening overnight. But some forward-thinking health systems are finding success. And they’re using telehealth and digital health tools. “We have to define value in lots of different ways, but I think that’s an advantage in the telehealth space,” says Sarah N. Pletcher, MD, founder and medical director of Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center’s Center for Telehealth, which uses telehealth to reach out to a network of rural communities across northern New England. “There are all sorts of barriers, more to delivery than adoption,” she says. “But when you talk about (providing care) to people who don’t have access, that’s a good start” to defining value. 

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  • NJ Lawmakers Consider Bill to Regulate Telemedicine

    NJTV News

    New Jersey legislators are considering a bill to regulate telemedicine: the use of videoconferencing between a medical professional and patient. “You have the access to see a physician, say, at 10 o’clock at night, 11 o’clock at night. They’re available,” said St. Luke’s University Health Network Director of Telemedicine Phil Witkowski. “We’re looking at telemedicine to not only handle the urgent care use case, we’re also looking at following up on chronic care disease management and follow-up for post surgical.” The technology is already being used at St. Luke’s University Health Network and in more than 60 percent of health care institutions nationwide, according to a federal study released in August. A state Senate committee approved legislation to set standards for the growing practice. Karen Olanrewaju testified before the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee. “It allows us to match the best professional with the most highly skilled strategists to work with a child and family regardless of their location throughout the state. So we don’t have concerns about availability of practitioners in certain neighborhoods.  

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  • mHealth Group Wants to Define Store-And-Forward Telehealth

    mHealth Intelligence

    mHealth proponents have drafted a definition for “asynchronous” telehealth, and they’re hoping federal officials will use it when dealing with MACRA issues and CPT codes. The Connected Health Initiative (CHI), a group organized by ACT | The App Association, has released a definition and four uses cases for asynchronous – also called store-and-forward – telehealth, noting that existing definitions “are inconsistent and have unfortunately led to confusion and in some cases has limited the ability of American patients to leverage the most effective technological solutions available in their treatments.” An ideal example of that lies in Arkansas, where the state’s medical board has included language in proposed telehealth regulations that specifically exclude online questionnaires from the store-and-forward definition. The issue hampers telehealth vendors like Teladoc, which does a majority of its business via phone.The CHI is recommending that asynchronous of store-and-forward be defined as “the sharing of data from one party to another through the use of a device or software that records, stores, and then sends such data via any communications or technological means.” 

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  • Touting Success, Mississippi Telehealth Effort Expands Beyond Diabetes

    Fierce Healthcare

    The University of Mississippi Medical Center's pilot program to remotely monitor Delta diabetes patients has been so successful that it has expanded to cover patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, hypertension, kidney disease and a number of other conditions. While UMMC has had a telehealth center since 2003 to provide specialized care, the Diabetes Telehealth Network kicked off in 20 Delta counties in 2014. It allowed real-time remote care of diabetes patients in their homes, reports The Clarion-Ledger. The benefits from the first 100 patients were positive that leaders expanded the program to other chronic conditions before completing the pilot. The UMMC telehealth center provides service in 35 specialties at 218 locations, including local clinics and hospitals, as well as the care management for chronic conditions. “A lot of our patients hadn't touched technology before the Diabetes Telehealth Network. Many didn't have internet,” Michael Adcock, administrator of the Center for Telehealth at UMMC told the Clarion-Ledger. “But once they found out how easy it was and how useful the information is, they embraced it.” 

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  • Kaiser CEO: Telehealth Outpaced In-Person Visits Last Year

    mHealth Intelligence

    Kaiser Permanente is seeing more patients online than in person, according to its CEO. The California-based health network, one of the nation’s largest integrated health systems, saw some 110 million people last year, with some 59 million connecting through online portals, virtual visits or the health system’s apps, Bernard J. Tyson told attendees at the recent Salesforce.com Dreamforce conference in San Francisco. That accounted for 52 percent of the health system’s total visits that year, he said. “We are going through a major transformation in healthcare,” Tyson pointed out during his keynote presentation. “Because we were all-knowing, we built the entire healthcare industry where everyone has to come to us, but now we are reversing the theory where people have to come to us for everything, so we’ve invested billions in our technology platform.” The announcement represents an important milestone in telehealth: the first time a large health system has reported more virtual encounters than in-person encounters. It’s also testament to the growing popularity of mHealth and telehealth among consumers. In a study conducted late last year by the University of Missouri School of Medicine, roughly 80 percent of providers and patients said they were satisfied by the care delivered and received through a video visit. 

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  • Telehealth May Help Fill Mental, Behavioral Health Needs in Rural Nebraska

    Live Well Nebraska

    Telehealth — offering medical services via remote technology — might be one solution for rural Nebraskans with little access to mental health and substance abuse resources, according to a look at the state’s needs released last week by the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services. The Comprehensive Behavioral Health Needs Assessment is the most complete report HHS has compiled on the topic, said Linda Wittmuss, deputy director with the department. The data — much of it pulled from census statistics, past studies and focus groups and surveys — will inform HHS’s 2017-2020 strategic plan. That plan will have to include innovative ways to use technology to reach Nebraskans who may be hours away from behavioral health care, Wittmuss said. 

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  • Arkansas Medical Board OKs Telemedicine Rule Again

    Times Record

    The Arkansas State Medical Board voted Thursday to approve a proposed regulation concerning the online transferal of patients’ medical records after two legislative panels previously declined to review the rule. The Medical Board voted in June to approve the proposed regulation and one other, both governing the use of audio and video technology to care for patients. But in July the House and Senate committees on public health declined to review the proposals after Bradley Phillips, a lobbyist for Dallas-based telemedicine company Teladoc, spoke against them. Regulation 38 states that a patient completing a medical history online and forwarding it to a physician is not sufficient to establish a doctor-patient relationship and does not qualify as “store-and-forward technology,” which under the state’s telemedicine law, Act 887 of 2015, is not restricted by law. Regulation 2.8 states that a doctor-patient relationship may be established through an examination conducted using real-time audio and video technology that provides at least as much information as the doctor could obtain through an in-person examination. Phillips told the public health committees in July that the language about store-and-forward technology, which was recommended by the state Medical Society, was approved by the Medical Board at the last minute and was not in the regulation during a required public-comment period. 

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  • In the Northeast,Telehealth Gets Creative - With Good Results

    mHealth Intelligence

    From a Maine clinic providing healthcare-by-boat to remote islanders to a health system in New York’s Finger Lakes region worried about travel costs and safety, telehealth comes in many ways, shapes and forms in the Northeast. n fact, the region has become an ideal test-bed for the latest trends in mHealth and telehealth, says Danielle Louder, of the eight-state NorthEast Telehealth Resource Center. “There are programs out there that are seeing some remarkable outcomes,” says Louder, director of technology-based initiatives for the Augusta, Me.-based NETRC. “Some of the work we’re seeing has kind of been unprecedented.” The NETRC is one of 14 such centers scattered across the nation, 12 of which cover designated regions and two of which provide nationwide support for technical and policy issues. The centers are designed to help anyone – from providers to entrepreneurs to local governments – looking to launch, scale or maintain a telehealth program.

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  • Rural Clinics Turn to Telehealth to Combat Addiction

    Healthcare IT News

    An older, unemployed man with chronic back pain recently visited Robert Devereaux, MD, a family physician in this Southwest corner of Virginia. Devereaux recalled that months earlier, during a routine exam, he found crushed fragments of painkiller pills inside the patient’s nose. Though he refused to prescribe more, Devereaux worries that the man is still getting the drugs and has not recognized his problem or gotten treatment for his addiction. That story is common here. “There are a lot of patients in denial. … It’s a lot of families that have suffered horribly from this.” And their need for help has not been addressed. “We don’t have enough psychiatrists,” he said, which is also true about addiction specialists. “The mental health issues aren’t going to go away.” But some health professionals as well as the federal government think they may have a possible solution: using telemedicine to connect patients in need by video chat with faraway physicians who know how to treat addiction. 

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  • Strong Patient Demand for Telehealth Motivated by Convenience

    mHealth Intelligence

    The convenience factor is a major driver for patients investigating the use of telehealth to consult with their providers, according to a survey by the American Telemedicine Association and WEGO Health. The poll of 429 patients, conducted at the ATA’s Fall Forum Event in New Orleans, found that 22 percent of participants had used a video conferencing tool to communicate with their healthcare provider.  While half of those users said that their provider had offered a telehealth option to them, the other 50 percent had actively requested a remote consult with their clinician. Patients engaged in between one and four telehealth consults during the prior 12 months, and did not believe that the quality of a remote consult differed significantly from an in-person visit.

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  • USDA Funds Telemedicine Projects in 16 States

    Advance Healthcare Network

    Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that USDA is investing in 18 projects in 16 states to use communications technology to expand access to healthcare, substance misuse treatment and advanced educational opportunities.  “These investments will help provide better health care and educational opportunities for rural residents,” Vilsack said. “Hospitals, schools and training centers across the country are successfully using telecommunications to deliver quality educational and medical services. Telemedicine, for example, can help treat patients who are struggling with opioid and other substance use disorders that disproportionately affect rural areas by allowing rural hospitals to connect with resources in other health care facilities across the country to better diagnose and treat individuals.” In January, President Obama tapped Secretary Vilsack to lead an interagency effort focused on the rural opioid epidemic, according to the announcement. 

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  • New Jersey Moves to Regulate Telehealth

    mHealth Intelligence

    One of the last states to regulate telehealth is moving forward with legislation that would permit video visits and consults and store-and-forward technology – but not healthcare delivered by phone, e-mail or text message. The New Jersey Senate’s health committee has unanimously approved S.291, which would enable clinicians in the Garden State to establish a valid physician-patient relationship via telehealth, require state health plans and private plans that cover state employees to reimburse at the same rate as in-person care, and prevent those plans from mandating an in-person visit before telehealth use. The bill also allows out-of-state healthcare providers to treat New Jersey residents via telehealth as long as they have a reciprocal medical license; New Jersey lawmakers enacted a rule in 2014 allowing doctors from other states to treat patient in New Jersey as long as the medical license they hold in their state aligns with New Jersey requirements.

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