Thumbs up for VA telehealth services

Senate Bill Seeks to Expand VA Telehealth Services

A bipartisan bill in the U.S. Senate seeks to increase veterans’ healthcare access by expanding telehealth services across state lines for the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). According to current law, the VA may waive the state licensure requirement only if the patient and doctor are both at a federally owned facility; additionally, at-home VA telehealth services are permitted only if the patient and doctor are in the same state. These mandates make it difficult for rural and disabled veterans to obtain appropriate care due to onerous travel requirements and state restrictions. Read more

Dr. warning to avoid telemedicine strategy pitfalls

Watch Out for These Telemedicine Strategy Pitfalls

If your practice has been waiting for the right time to embrace a telemedicine strategy, the wait is over. Telemedicine is no longer a brand-new, untested experiment—it’s used in over half of all U.S. hospitals, according to the American Telemedicine Association. Reimbursement is expanding, with Medicare, Medicaid, and private insurance plans coming on board in various states. And with the Affordable Care Act encouraging cost-effective, results-driven models of care, it’s a great time to transform your practice with a robust telemedicine program.

However, as with any endeavor, careful planning will help your goals become a reality. As you map out your telemedicine strategy, watch out for these three common pitfalls: Read more

stethoscope laying on keyboard

Establishing Telemedicine as a Tool through Legislation

As we face a future filled with increasing health care needs and a predicted shortage of physicians, it becomes clear that the old paradigm of medicine—namely, time-consuming office visits—will no longer suffice. Newer technologies, such as telemedicine, have the ability to address these needs by offering high-quality, cost-effective, and time-efficient care—but only if we allow it.

Unfortunately, science and patient demands evolve more quickly than legislation, and our current structure is hindering a more widespread and effective use of telemedicine. Read more

Senior woman and caregiver

The Benefits of Telemedicine in Long-Term Care Facilities

In recent years, telemedicine has received a lot of attention for increasing access to healthcare in rural areas. However, there’s another population, often overlooked, that can benefit greatly from this evolving technology: residents of long-term care facilities. These patients also experience reduced accessibility to healthcare due to transportation issues or being homebound thanks to illness or injury, and their hospital readmissions are raising cost concerns among facilities. By implementing telemedicine in long-term care, we can address both challenges with one solution. Read more

Telemed doctor using tablet

Who Wants to Be a Telemed Doctor?

Patients in rural areas and with limited transportation may welcome telemedicine, but what about the doctors?

It appears that physicians everywhere are also embracing this technology. A recent nationwide poll, conducted by QuantiaMD and American Well, reveals that 57 percent of primary care physicians are interested and willing to conduct telemedicine visits with their patients (1).

To better understand this response, let’s examine the context. As revealed by the survey, doctors are spending increasing time on non-reimbursable phone and email communications with patients. The average family doctor devotes nearly 4 hours per week on phone calls and emails, and each phone call alone costs roughly $20 of the physician’s time.

In this situation, it makes sense to replace non-reimbursable activities with billable telemedicine hours. Read more

swyMed Goes the Distance for Mobile Stroke Units

We’ve all heard that “Time is Money,” but what about “Time is Brain”? When it comes to treating strokes, we already know that every minute really can make a difference in recovery. In this high-pressure environment, the health care industry eagerly embraces any proven innovation that can save crucial seconds in delivering treatment.

That’s where mobile stroke units come in. Recently named as the leader among the Top 10 Medical Innovations for 2015 by the Cleveland Clinic, mobile stroke ambulances are equipped with telemedicine units so stroke treatment can begin en route to the hospital.

Sounds great, but what’s the catch? Mobile stroke care only works if the technology works. Read more

Laptop using swyMed

7 Features for Telemedicine Software That You Can’t Live Without

When you’re faced with a number of telemedicine products, how do you separate the wheat from the chaff?

You could try consulting the government; according to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, the defining feature of telemedicine is real-time video communication. This means that a doctor talking on any video conferencing software can be considered “telemedicine.” Unfortunately, this standard is too vague to offer useful guidance in choosing the best telemedicine solution for your healthcare organization. Read more

5 Ways (and why) to Help HIT and Telemedicine Adoption

A few articles came out this week that I that I feel underscore the need for providers – both large hospital systems and private practices – need to get off their collective derrières and start implementing HIT and Telemedicine.

Thankfully, we are going to provide them valuable advice to help make this happen later in this piece. However, let’s start with a brief discussion of some of this week’s materials.

In a piece Read more

Interstate Licensure Compact Goes Live

interstate licensure map

Blue indicates states where the compact is enacted, orange indicates states where it has been introduced. Map from licenseportability.org, sponsored by The Federation of State Medical Boards.

Slightly old news, but on May 19th (only two weeks after the American Telemedicine Association’s Annual Meeting and Trade Show), enough states signed the Interstate Licensure Compact into law to trigger forming the Interstate Licensure Compact Commission. Each state will appoint two commissioners who will help oversee and administer the compact.

This is a highly important event, as it marks the beginnings of making physician licenses either more portable (license portability) or much easier to acquire in additional states once acquired the first time–a key stumbling block in telemedicine that looks to provide aid to rural areas that are often closer to medical service areas in a bordering state. It’s also been a key issue in overcoming the increasing physician shortage in general.

The seventh, and triggering state, was Alabama, followed almost immediately by Minnesota on the same day. On May 27th, Nevada followed suit, making the number of participation states nine. The other states are Idaho, Montana, South Dakota, Utah, West Virginia, and Wyoming–notably rural states that would benefit immensely by the Compact’s success.

The commission is expected to meet later this year. For more information on the Instate Medical Licensure Compact, please visit http://licenseportability.org/.