Telehealth in the News

Check out the latest in telehealth news and updates:

  • Bipartisan Legislation Proposes Telehealth Solutions for Effective Chronic Disease Management

    The National Law Review

    Collaborative efforts between congressional offices and various health care stakeholders, as well as the feedback provided in response to the Bipartisan CHRONIC Care Working Group Policy Options Document released in December of 2015, have driven the Senate Finance Committee to introduce a draft of bipartisan legislation known as the CHRONIC Care Act, which seeks to modernize Medicare payment policies to improve the management and treatment of chronic diseases using telehealth. As a result of the collaborative efforts between congressional offices and various health care stakeholders, and the feedback provided in response to the Bipartisan CHRONIC Care Working Group Policy Options Document released in December of 2015, the Senate Finance Committee recently introduced a draft of bipartisan legislation known as the Creating High-Quality Results and Outcomes necessary to Improve CHRONIC Care Act of 2016 (the CHRONIC Care Act). The CHRONIC Care Act seeks to modernize Medicare payment policies to improve the management and treatment of chronic diseases using telehealth. Over the past several years, there has been increased attention by Congress and federal agencies on prevention, management and treatment of chronic conditions, such as cancer, heart disease, obesity and diabetes, as they are long-lasting and persistent health problems that require continuous, expensive care. 

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  • Senate Unanimously Passes Telemedicine Legislation

    mHealth Intelligence

    A telemedicine program born at the University of New Mexico is set to become a national model for pushing healthcare into remote and underserved regions. The Senate on Tuesday approved by a 97-0 vote S. 2873, the Expanding Capacity for Health Outcomes (ECHO) Act. The bill places UNM’s five-year-old groundbreaking Project ECHO (Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes) on a national stage, setting the wheels in motion for a national network of hub-and-spoke telemedicine platforms to provide education and collaboration opportunities for healthcare providers in hard-to-reach areas. “We’re now one step closer to supporting new ways to train health providers and deliver healthcare,” Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), who co-sponsored the bill this past April with Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), said in a press release. “Technology is changing the way medical professionals connect with each other and their patients.  Our bill capitalizes on this technology to give health professionals in hard-to-reach areas the specialized training they need and help them reach more patients.” “On a recent visit to southern Utah, I had the opportunity to visit a rural health center and speak to some of the families that rely on services included in the ECHO Act,” Hatch added in the release. “Some of these individuals had health conditions that required specialized care or could be managed much closer to home by health professionals they know and trust. By using technology to connect patients and providers, this bill will benefit Utah’s families by helping them receive the care they need, when they need it.  I’m grateful for the valuable input Utah’s health leaders have provided in crafting this proposal.” 

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  • How Do We Bridge the Gap Between Telehealth and Telemedicine?

    MedCityNews

    Telemedicine is changing the way we receive and deliver health care. But telemedicine isn’t new. Throughout history, mankind has studied and used various forms of the service. The actions that were eventually coined telemedicine have been around for centuries, even dating back to when the people of ancient Rome sent proxies to the temples where medical care was offered if their citizens were too old or too ill to go themselves. In more recent history, right around the 1960s, NASA pioneered significant advancements in telemedicine when it started planning to send American astronauts to space. Space travel required the ability to use the spacecraft and astronauts’ spacesuits to remotely monitor and diagnose health-related issues. However, after this creation, telemedicine innovation slowed. It wasn’t until the 2000s that innovation in this field resumed and the telemedicine industry commenced changing its identity and entering mainstream popularity. Telemedicine solves the issue of convenience and access to certain types of medical care that millions of patients struggle with every year. But time and technology have created new advancements in the remote delivery of healthcare, expanding beyond telemedicine and providing even greater convenience and higher quality care – what we now call “telehealth.” 

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  • Mayo Clinic Uses Emergency Telemedicine for Newborn Resuscitations

    HealthData Management

    The Mayo Clinic is using emergency video telemedicine to effectively assist community hospitals less familiar with advanced newborn resuscitation interventions during high-risk, complex deliveries. Mayo’s Division of Neonatal Medicine initially offered newborn telemedicine consultations to six of its health system sites, where local care teams used wireless tablets running HIPAA-compliant video conferencing software from Vidyo to communicate with neonatologists at Mayo in Rochester, Minn. Video consults are now conducted at all 10 of Mayo’s health system sites that deliver babies in the Rochester region. The technology enables neonatologists to “visually assess the babies and co-manage them together with local care teams more efficiently using video and improved communication,” says Jennifer Fang, MD, a Mayo Clinic fellow in neonatal-perinatal medicine. “With telemedicine now, we’re able to bring our neonatologists to the bedside remotely to really help guide these local care teams with complex deliveries.” The vast majority of babies are fine after delivery, but about 10 percent of newborns require some help breathing after birth, while 1 in 1,000 require more intensive resuscitation measures, Fang notes. Although these high-risk deliveries often present challenges to community hospitals, Mayo’s telemedicine consultation for neonatal resuscitation have improved access to neonatology expertise and prevented unnecessary transfers to facilities that offer higher levels of care, she contends. Over a 20-month period, Mayo conducted 84 newborn telemedicine consultations, with prematurity cited as the most frequent reason for the consult, followed by respiratory distress and need for advanced resuscitation. In more than 93 percent of 64 surveyed cases, the local provider agreed that the telemedicine consult improved patient safety, quality of care, or both.

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  • Senate Set to Vote on Legislation Advancing Use of Telehealth

    Modern Healthcare

    Industry experts have touted telehealth as a tool to improve healthcare access and quality, adding that the practice could save as much as $4.8 billion in annual healthcare spending. But while using technology to replace the in-person visit has gained credibility and reimbursement opportunities, it's also faced some challenges. The Senate has a chance to change that on Tuesday, when it is scheduled to vote on the ECHO Act, legislation aimed at better integrating Project ECHO, the pioneering telehealth model developed by the University of New Mexico, and other “distance health” models into health systems nationwide. The ECHO Act, introduced in April by Sens. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), would also boost federal research into the use of telehealth and into its potential to expand and improve healthcare. The law would require those findings to be published and HHS to issue recommendations based on them, as well as a toolkit of best practices for implementing telehealth models. Many providers and policymakers say that telehealth could bridge serious gaps in the U.S. healthcare system. It can improve care for rural populations and others in healthcare deserts—20% of Americans live in areas with shortages of healthcare providers—by making such care more timely and giving them access to specialists. 

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  • AMA Promotes Prescribing of mHealth Apps

    Medscape

    The American Medical Association (AMA) has adopted principles to promote the use of "safe and effective" mobile health applications and related devices in clinical care. Although the association acknowledges that the evidence base for mHealth apps is very small, its new policy provides guidance to physicians who have been reluctant to prescribe these apps to patients up to now. A 2014 survey found that more than a third of doctors were prescribing mHealth apps, but half of those physicians were just suggesting that their patients shop in an app store. Another survey in 2015 found that only 16% of physicians prescribed mHealth apps, according to a report in Medical Economics. One factor holding many doctors back is the lack of evidence for the safety and efficacy of most apps. Only about 260 studies have been conducted on mHealth apps, and there are roughly 63,000 of them now on the market, according to the publication.

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  • 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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