Paramedics prepping patient for transport and EMS telemedicine

Are Paramedics Ready for EMS Telemedicine?

As video communications infrastructures and telemedicine technology constantly improve, the opportunities to expand telemedicine into new fields are multiplying rapidly. One such area, mobile health (mHealth), refers to the application of telemedicine technologies in areas beyond the four walls of a hospital or clinic—in other words, medicine on-the-go. For instance, EMS telemedicine (Emergency Medical Services) integrates telemedicine into ambulances so that paramedics can contact a specialist at the hospital for an initial assessment, diagnosis, and treatment plan—even before arriving at the emergency department (ED). This capability offers the potential to save crucial minutes for patients like stroke victims, for whom the drug of choice—tissue plasminogen activator (tPA)—must be administered within a certain time frame to be effective and life-saving. Indeed, a recent meta-analysis of over 6,600 patients treated with tPA found a strong correlation between EMS telemedicine availability in the ambulance and decreased times from symptom onset to treatment. However, the technology can only be useful if the operator can wield it effectively; how do paramedics value and use mHealth? Read more

Cheered businessman standing with graph showing growth trend of telemedicine for coronavirus

Emergency Measures Spur Growth of Telemedicine for Coronavirus, but What Comes Afterward?

Amidst the apprehension wrought by the current COVID-19 pandemic, a silver lining has emerged: Primary care providers (PCP) are finding that telemedicine usage within their practices, previously hindered by issues such as inadequate reimbursement, privacy concerns, and costs, has begun soaring as cautious consumers seek alternatives to visiting the doctor’s office in person and, thus, potentially exposing themselves or others to COVID-19. Industry analysts are predicting that as both providers and patients embrace telemedicine for coronavirus as a solution for reducing the risk of transmission of infectious disease, as well as for other ailments, they will become accustomed to telemedicine as a tool and will expect its continuation within medical practices. Read more

Telemedicine for Coronavirus: Drive-Through Testing

Telemedicine for Coronavirus: Next Window, Please

Telemedicine offers an ideal strategy to enable more health care providers to address more patients’ needs while minimizing exposure to infectious diseases such as the currently notorious coronavirus (COVID-19). As shown by the recent expansions for Medicare reimbursement for telemedicine, our Congress and President clearly recognize the potential benefits of utilizing telemedicine for coronavirus screening and other health care concerns. Even the New England Journal of Medicine came out a week ago with a strong statement of support for telemedicine’s benefits. Now, the question is how to deploy the technology quickly and in a way that will drive better outcomes for patients, providers and society as a whole. Read more

With telemedicine adoption, cowboy checks blood pressure at home

Telemedicine Adoption Surpasses Use of Other Digital Technologies

A recent survey by the American Medical Association has revealed that physicians’ use of digital health, particularly telemedicine adoption and remote patient monitoring, has grown since 2016. This rise can be attributed to physicians’ improving attitudes towards digital health, explained the researchers. The Digital Health Research study showed that telemedicine engagement among providers doubled—from 14% of physicians to 28% over the three-year period—and remote patient monitoring (RPM) usage jumped from 13% of physician participation in 2016 to 22% in 2019. Read more

RPM reimbursement codes clear the way for expanding RPM programs, such as glucose monitoring for diabetes patients

RPM Reimbursement Paves the Way for Expansion in 2020

With the ongoing shift in healthcare towards a value-based care model, the concept of remote patient monitoring (RPM) for chronically ill patients certainly grabbed attention throughout 2019. By introducing new reimbursement codes for RPM in late 2019, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is clearly inviting the increased use of RPM, presumably made possible with telemedicine, in 2020. Some experts view 2019 as the trial run for RPM reimbursement; now that the CMS has officially endorsed RPM, albeit in limited capacities, 2020 is expected to see a significant rise in the adoption of RPM programs. However, current limitations in technology and software could curb growth, warn industry watchdogs. Read more

Telehealth for astronauts aboard the International Space Station over the planet Earth. Elements of this image furnished by NASA

Telehealth for Astronauts: Unearthing Deadly Risks

When we think of telemedicine sessions, most of us probably picture consultations that take no longer than a typical appointment; once a treatment plan is agreed upon, only brief follow-up telemedicine visits remain. But what if the patient isn’t on earth? As reported by Forbes, in the longest telemedicine consultation on record, a U.S. astronaut has been successfully treated for a potentially fatal condition while living on the International Space Station (ISS). Read more

EMT first aid bag prior to emergency telemedicine program

Six Tips for Planning Your Emergency Telemedicine Program Smartly

Five years ago, the Houston Fire Department (HFD) developed the Emergency Telehealth and Navigation (ETHAN) program as a way to respond to every call by providing the appropriate level of health care rather than bringing everyone to the emergency department—without using up resources to transport non-emergency patients. Since its inception, the ETHAN project has picked up a few tips that could prove helpful if your organization is designing, or will design, an emergency telemedicine program. Read more

vector drawing of clinicians at enlarged smartphone with app and pills

DTC Telemedicine: Risk or Relief?

Most talk of telemedicine centers around doctor’s offices, medical facilities, and hospitals, but another segment is drawing increased attention—and unease. Direct-to-consumer telemedicine, in which a telemedicine company links a health care provider with a patient upon the patient’s request, perhaps through a smartphone app or in a supermarket with a private kiosk, has been rising in popularity due to the clear benefits offered by the modality. However, a recent editorial in JAMA brings up serious concerns about the quality of care being provided to these patients via DTC telemedicine. Read more

hearing aid in woman's ear

Telehealth Audiology Opens a Whole New World

When we think about the process of getting hearing aids, many people envision multiple, time-consuming visits to an audiologist’s office. However, over half of U.S. counties have little or no access to audiologists, especially in rural areas. As Baby Boomers age and demand for audiology services rises, there aren’t enough new audiologists to address the need; the shortage is about to get worse. To combat this problem, some organizations, such as Your Hearing Network, are experimenting with telehealth audiology programs that will allow patients to have hearing tests and be fitted for hearing aids at home or at a local primary care doctor’s office. Read more

doctor reaching up to drawn spaceship for space telemedicine

Learning from Space Telemedicine

As you’ve probably heard lately, July 20, 2019 marks the 50th anniversary of humans’ first moon landing via the Apollo 11. Since then, NASA and other space agencies have successfully launched many astronauts and brought them back home safely and in good health. But considering the limited space and resources onboard spacecraft and the International Space Station, how do astronauts handle medical issues? To address this question, NASA developed space telemedicine—one of the earliest adopters of the technology. Some of the key lessons learned from these experiences are proving useful in medical clinics here on terra firma, particularly in resource-constrained environments. Read more