College students—famous for their late-night cram sessions and 2 a.m. pizzas—have never been the model of perfect health, but with campuses starting to embrace telemedicine, this could soon change. Today’s students, Generation Z, are the least likely generation to visit a primary care doctor; only 55 percent even have a designated primary care physician, and 1.7 million college students are uninsured. To entice students to seek care more readily when it’s needed, telemedicine start-up 98point6 is partnering with Ohio Wesleyan University to offer students free campus telemedicine services. Read more
Over the last several years, the growth of the telemedicine industry and its elimination of geographic barriers have highlighted the impracticality of requiring medical care providers to be licensed in every single state in which their patients live. To overcome this expensive and time-consuming administrative work, several states have banded together to create licensure compacts in which the participating states recognize each other’s medical licenses as being valid within their borders. Perhaps the most well-known agreement is the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact (IMLC) for physicians, although other types of medical providers have formed interstate bonds as well. Now, telemental health is about to receive a boost in popularity: The Psychology Interjurisdictional Compact (PSYPACT) is almost ready to go live. Read more
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has accepted five new Current Procedural Terminology (CPT) codes to allow physicians to be reimbursed for telemedicine specialist consultations and to expand remote patient monitoring conducted via telemedicine. The telemedicine reimbursement codes were originally proposed by the American Medical Association; now approved, they took effect on Jan. 1, 2019. Read more
Every day, an estimated 115 people die from opioid abuse. To address the substance abuse epidemic—of opioids and other drugs–healthcare providers develop treatment plans that combine addiction control with behavioral and psychiatric care in a personalized package. Traditionally, treatment has centered around group therapy and in-office visits. Now, with the rise of telemedicine, providers can now work with patients at any time and place and can see first-hand aspects of the patient’s daily life. Read more
Raising a child with autism can be challenging but rewarding, say their parents, but telemedicine is beginning to show itself to be a valuable tool. Whether it’s being used for remote assessments to diagnose autism or remote in-home therapy, telehealth for autism is currently being studied—and the preliminary results look promising. Read more
In the wake of the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School and Aurora, Colorado, theater shooting, a Texas telepsychiatry program was launched to help schoolchildren and teens deal with potential mental health issues that could lead to later violence or suicide. School violence may get all the attention, but suicide is the second most common cause of death among American teenagers. Both situations often stem from untreated mental or behavioral health issues among children and teenagers. In the years since those shootings, at-risk students at these Texas schools have received the psychiatric care they need and, in some cases, have even been removed from the school setting amidst safety concerns. Read more
Thanks to an ongoing shortage of psychiatrists in Idaho, patients are often unable to seek help for mental or behavioral health issues until the condition has become severe enough to require hospitalization. In an effort to provide relief, Saint Alphonsus Health System has partnered with the University of Washington to create a telepsychiatry program, bringing psychiatric residents virtually to rural Idaho and Oregon. Read more
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.
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In a merger of telehealth, mobile and cloud, Massachusetts-based swyMe is offering video conferencing in ambulances. The basic system includes three cameras in the vehicle: a standard “fish eye” 360º camera mounted high on the ambulance wall; a webcam attached to a touch screen monitor; and a handheld HDTV 720p IP camera.
The combination of the three affords a remote physician a view of the overall situation in the ambulance, the ability to communicate face-to-face with attending EMS workers and capability to zero in to close-up views of the patient. The system is HIPAA compliant and uses AES256 security.
swyMe COO Jeff Urdan explained that Read more
As with last month, this is largely geared to updates about legislation along with reminders about the upcoming Fall Forum conference in Palm Springs, CA, which I’ll have to consider as I live out Orange County.
This month’s takeaways are a little more subdued than last month which had some pretty big news (see here). The ATA had just done a survey on online consultations and had over 500 respondents.
1) 45% of respondents are using telemedicine TODAY. This is fantastic news and, in my mind, is possibly underreported because, as Mr. Linkous and Mr. Capistrant pointed out on the last call (and pointed out in our 3 Things from last month), nearly every institution is already using some form of telemedicine and the boards don’t realize it.
2) Specialty Care and Behavioral Health were the leading segments. Not terribly surprising, as specialty care often needs to use leading edge tools to leverage resources for special care, and behavioral health lends itself well to an old-school videoconferencing set up (patient and doctor meet via video), leading to less push-back on its use while providing maximum benefit to both patients and providers. The industry will have to really work, I think, to make sure providers and CDOs are aware of the more specialized applications and the benefits to be had. Telemedice will not yield a large harvest if we only pick the low-hanging fruit. As if to prove that point:
3) 77% use video, 57% use audio and 28% use medical peripherals. Just over a quarter are using peripherals, while three times that are using video. Being at a video-primary solution provider: Yay! Being a proponent of telemedicine as a whole: We can do better. Even the video-primary medical solutions offer a lot of specialized or integrated offerings that provide more than just adding a visual element to distance care. Again, the question is, how do we get this to the doctors and CDOs?
4) Of the 55% of respondents that replied they are not using telemedicine today, 75% plan to implement it very soon. I present that as Exhibit A to the tipping point naysayers…although I concede that if you responded to a survey about telemedicine from the American Telemedicine Association, you’re probably already predisposed to an interest in telemedicine. Having said that, interest in telemedicine has been on the rise, and 75% of that growing crowd being interested in giving it a shot can only be a good thing.
4) Mr. Linkous pointed out something toward the end that I assumed would be a primary driver (or at least remove an obstacle) but assumed would take several more years: Private insurance is increasingly taking the lead in pushing telemedicine. I’ve been noting that the reduced cost/better outcome/reduced readmissions scenario HAS to eventually turn private insurance into champions of telemedicine. Amongst the names he mentioned were Kaiser Permanente, Aetna, WellPoint, and others.
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