Preparing Big Stuff for HIMSS 2015

swyMed at HIMSS 2015 booth 7164

I admit it’s been too long since I last posted here. Well, I have an excuse…

We’ve been busy getting ready for the HIMSS and ATA 2015 conferences. We’re very excited to be going because we believe this is the year swyMed really makes its presence known in the healthcare space.

At HIMSS we will be introducing some very special technology for home health use as well as new partnerships that will make the deployment and delivery of healthcare even easier. Read more

New York Telehealth

New York joins the Telemedicine Party…er, Parity

New York Telehealth

Making a momentous step forward, last week New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed into law a bill requiring private insurers to cover telehealth and telemedicine coverage, retroactive to January 1st, 2015 (Happy New Year!).

That was not a redundant sentence: New York has differentiated between telehealth and telemedicine in the bill, with the primary difference being that telemedicine must include Read more

senior patient using swyMed tablet

Introducing the New User Type: Patient

senior patient using swyMed tablet

In response to customer requests, we have just added new user type for our software: “Patient.” Patient users are not able to search the user directory, meaning that a care provider can keep all their patients in their groups and directories for easy access while maintaining the utmost privacy. A doctor can give a patient swyMed software, set them up with a Patient account with the doctor in the presence list, and the patient can’t search or see other doctors or patients, fully complying with HIPAA.

We created this user type so that swyMed can be given to individuals on their home PCs, smartphones or tablets, to connect to their doctor, and know that their privacy is protected.

In the past, most of our clients installed our software on devices owned by their facility, which either restricted use to the facility or required loaning devices to patients. Now with the Patient user type, they can throw the doors open and give the software to anyone, anywhere.

This is just one more way that we are allowing our healthcare customers to have the workflow they want, rather than a Rube Goldberg procedure for contacting patients while maintaining full compliance.

Max Life emergency response

Emergency Response Day Video from ITS World Congress

Max Life, with whom we provide remote urgent care, remote ER screening, and mobile trauma care, participated in the the ITS (Intelligent Transport Systems) World Congress Emergency Response Day back in September. It may be several months later, but the ITS has released this wonderful video on YouTube showcasing the Mock Incident exercise. Max Life can be seen starting at the 1:06 mark, showcasing swyMed’s telemedicine communication platform inside their ambulance beginning at 1:27.  However, watch the entire thing. It’s less than three minutes and provides a great example of how telemedicine can play an important role in emergency response.

Hoping CMS’ Proposed ACO Rules Get Better

CMS helping a bit

Recently, CMS (the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services) released a proposal of new rulemaking asking for comments on easing “telehealth” requirements for ACOs (Accountable Care Organizations). You can find a wonderful press release here from the ATA (American Telemedicine Association), who was instrumental in getting CMS to reconsider their earlier rules.

Having reviewed the proposal, I had to remind myself that CMS (and, ultimately, the Department of Health and Human Services) is to actually very committed to enabling greater adoption of telehealth, and that their final rules have historically been heavily modified from their proposals. Having said that–and I’m no doctor or lawyer–but I felt this proposal to use waivers rather than simply waiving antiquated requirements just adds red tape where there shouldn’t be any. Does anyone else get that sense?

First, a quick statement of why s Read more

Maybe You Can get Reimbursed for That…

Treasure In Paper

Last week I posted a press release from the ATA about expanded Medicare coverage for Telemedicine.  Well, I decided to actually read the 1200 page rulemaking from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).  You can guess why it’s taken a week to write a follow up article…

Actually, no.  I didn’t read the entire rulemaking, only the pages relevant to all things “tele” in medicine and healthcare.  In doing so, I was reminded of something interesting:

There are a number of procedures already covered by Medicare without specific telemedicine codes.  In fact, of the seven bullet points listing the 22 codes rejected or deleted from inclusion, five noted the affected codes were largely unnecessary due to either an existing telehealth code or because Medicare does not distinguish whether the procedure is tele or not.

Here are a few examples:

Regarding electrocardiograms and echocardiograms: “By definition, Read more

ATA Celebrates Halloween Telemedicine Treats for Medicare Beneficiaries

WASHINGTON – Saturday, Nov. 1, 2014 — Yesterday, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued a rulemaking that includes significant additional coverage for telemedicine services.

“This Halloween, Medicare beneficiaries got an important treat for home care of chronic care management, remote patient monitoring of chronic conditions, and other services when provided via telehealth,” said Jonathan Linkous, CEO of the American Telemedicine Association. The association has been asking CMS for such coverage for over five years.

Buried in an almost 1200-page rulemaking about 2015 Medicare payments to physicians and practitioners were provisions paying for remote chronic care management using a new current procedural terminology (CPT) code, 99490, with a monthly unadjusted, non-facility fee of $42.60. Also, Medicare will pay for remote-patient monitoring of chronic conditions with a monthly unadjusted, non-facility fee of $56.92 using CPT code 99091. Prior to this, Medicare did not pay separately for such services, requiring that such billing be bundled with an “evaluation and management” code.

Also in the rulemaking were seven new covered procedure codes for telehealth including annual wellness visits, psychotherapy services, and prolonged services in the office.

“It has been a long time coming, but this rulemaking signals a clear and bold step in the right direction for Medicare,” added Linkous. “This allows providers to use telemedicine technology to improve the cost and quality of healthcare delivery.”

Read the full document here: http://www.regulations.gov/#!documentDetail;D=CMS-2014-0094-2363. To learn more about telemedicine and public policy, visit http://www.americantelemed.org/policy/overview-news.

About the American Telemedicine Association

The American Telemedicine Association is the leading international resource and advocate promoting the use of advanced remote medical technologies. ATA and its diverse membership work to fully integrate telemedicine into healthcare systems to improve quality, equity and affordability of healthcare throughout the world. Established in 1993, ATA is headquartered in Washington, DC. For more information visit www.americantelemed.org.

Media Contact:
Mimi Hubbard
mhubbard@americantelemed.org
202-659-7616

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7 Things We Learned from the 2014 Connected Health Symposium

Last week we participated at the Connected Health Symposium hosted by Partners Healthcare in Boston.  Jeff Urdan, our COO, gave a presentation on swyMed for the fourth annual Innovators Challenge, a symposium event to draw attention to, as they say on their website, “products that are genuinely new and potentially game-changing for connected health.”  He also had a chance to report back on his key takeaways from the event.

1)     Wearables May Take Over the World

Lots of companies are doing cool things with wearable sensors sending data to smart phones.  At the Innovators Challenge alone there were:

  • Basis – a fitness and sleep tracker watch conceptually similar to the iWatch and Samsung (but better of course!)
  • FeverSmart – a temperature monitor for tracking fever.  It is intended for babies so parents can know both how the child is trending and can give actual data to their pediatrician rather than guesstimates…but imagine the Ebola applications for monitoring people who might have been exposed and need to be monitored for the 21 day incubation period!
  • GoodLux Technology – measures light exposure which has been shown to impact both seasonal affective disorder and depression.

Read more

swyMed at ACEP14 in Chicago

ACEP14 boothswyMe/swyMed is at ACEP14 (or, as they are also calling it, the Scientific Assembly) right now in Chicago.  ACEP stands for the American College of Emergency Physicians, and is THE place to immerse yourself in emergency medicine.  We’re showcasing our use in ambulances and emergency admissions reduction by bringing the emergency physician’s presence to the home, even in difficult rural areas.

If you’re in Chicago, come by.  It’s at McCormick Place, 2201 Fort Dearborn Drive, from Oct. 27 through 30.  We’re booth #1936.

If you come by, make sure to ask about the ambulance challenge!

and also wear it with a more inspired outfit as shown
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An Open Letter and Call To Action to the Telemedicine Industry

 

reimbursement boulder in road crop

“Is your cucumber bitter? Throw it away. Are there briars in your path? Turn aside. That is enough.”
Marcus Aurelius, Meditations.

For an industry full of innovators, there’s a distinct lack of innovation in overcoming the reimbursement issue.  I believe this is largely because we’ve trained ourselves to continue focusing on reimbursement, rather than discovering how to make the lack of reimbursement work for us or on creating a new model of telemedicine that makes reimbursement an afterthought.

If you believe telemedicine won’t expand until reimbursement is solved, why are any of us involved in Telemedicine?  (I assume it’s to improve healthcare, which means we shouldn’t let reimbursement stop us.)

This is not to say that reimbursement is not impo Read more