Telemedicine Specialists: A New Discipline?

Considering the steady growth of the telemedicine industry, two physicians at New York-Presbyterian have proposed the creation of a new specialty representing the “medical virtualist.” In a recent JAMA Viewpoint article, the authors cite a combination of the lack of oversight, inconsistent training, and specific skill sets, including webside manner, as compelling reasons for certifying full-time telemedicine specialists with a defined set of core competencies. Read more

NBC News Affiliate Highlights swyMed’s Mobile Telehealth Solution

swyMed recently announced that it has joined forces with the Commission on State Emergency Communications (CSEC) and Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center (TTUHSC) on a program to implement telemedicine between EMS providers and a select group of trauma centers in rural West Texas. The objective of the project is to improve patient outcomes by using telemedicine technology to bring the judgment of trauma surgeons into the back of ambulances to assess and direct treatment. Read more

elderly man in ambulance

Maximizing the Potential for Mobile Telestroke

When it comes to treating stroke, every moment counts. A stroke patient only has a three-hour window from symptom onset in which access to the clot-busting and lifesaving drug tPA can do the most good; after that, the chances of recovery plummet. Unfortunately, many regional and rural hospitals don’t have a 24-hour neurologist on hand to make timely diagnoses. To make things worse, only about 27 percent of stroke patients arrive at the hospital within 3.5 hours of symptom onset, leaving nearly three-quarters of stroke patients at risk for more permanent damage. (1) In an effort to deliver care to patients in a timelier manner, systems are increasingly looking into mobile telestroke programs. Read more

Diagnosis of addiction with syringe and stethoscope

Treatment Providers Debate the Use of Telemedicine for Addiction

Can telemedicine be used to treat drug addiction?

This past January, the Addiction Industry Executive Summit held their annual meeting. Among the topics was telemedicine addiction—treating addiction remotely. Telemedicine is already commonly used to treat illnesses such as pink eye and bronchitis, but whether it should be used for addiction recovery has been debated heavily. Read more

Abdominal pain can be a symptom of hepatitis C

Rural Telemedicine Levels the Playing Field for Hepatitis C Patients

According to a new study in the American Journal of Medicine, rural patients diagnosed with the Hepatitis C virus were more likely to receive treatment if their primary care physicians (PCPs) engaged in telemedicine consults with infectious disease specialists. The researchers found that patients with physicians who participated in the VA-ECHO telemedicine program showed a 21.4% treatment rate, compared with 2.5% among patients with a PCP who did not take part in VA-ECHO. Read more

Report Card: Most Improved A+

ATA’s Annual Reports Reveal Growth in Telemedicine Adoption

Last week, the American Telemedicine Association (ATA) issued its yearly reports of telemedicine coverage, reimbursement, and standards across the country. In general, telemedicine has consistently become an accepted tool by patients, providers, and third-party payers in all states, with improved coverage and reimbursement in several states. Some state legislatures are removing restrictive requirements for physician practice standards, even allowing them to practice telemedicine across state lines. Read more

Girl feeling ill in classroom

School Telemedicine Earns Grade ‘A’

Traditionally, when a student presents with wheezing in the chest, suggesting an asthma attack, the school nurse must call an ambulance to transport the child to the emergency room. Now, with school telemedicine and the parent’s permission, a school nurse can initiate a video call with an emergency room pediatrician; with the aid of a digital stethoscope, the doctor can listen to the student’s lungs remotely, diagnose the ailment, and provide a treatment plan for the nurse to follow. Within minutes, the student returns to class. Read more

An elderly amputee contemplates his healthcare options without telemedicine

Rural Telemedicine Broadband Service Too Spotty

For patients in rural areas, telemedicine can make a big difference by increasing access to health care and specialists—but only when the region’s high-speed Internet access works. Unlike swyMed, most telemedicine platforms need minimum connection speeds of 25 megabits per second for download and 3 megabits per second for upload. Read more

New Year, New President: What Is the Future of Telemedicine?

Amidst the uncertainty that typically follows a transition in presidents and their administrations, the telemedicine industry received rousing support this week. During his confirmation hearing, Congressman Tom Price, President Trump’s pick for Secretary of Health and Human Services, revealed his high regard for telemedicine and his belief that telemedicine is a critical aspect of health care. In addition, his priorities of universal access to care and cost-effective care suggest that strategies that meet both criteria—such as telemedicine—will be favored. Thus, it seems certain that the future of telemedicine looks bright. Read more

ICU

Tele-ICU Programs Pay for Themselves

Some new research shows that when it comes to intensive care units (ICUs), investing in telemedicine pays significant dividends: Combining a tele-ICU program with centralized bed management can increase case volume by roughly 40 percent and raise contribution margins by over $52 million. The differences were attributed to shorter lengths of stay, a higher ratio of case revenue to direct costs, and higher case volume. Read more