swyMed_Telemedicine_mobile_stroke_unit

Research Highlights Success of Telemedicine Mobile Stroke Units

A new study indicates that telemedicine mobile stroke units offer a practical and cost-effective way to treat suspected strokes more quickly than waiting until arrival at the hospital. Most mobile stroke units bring a neurophysician on board, but it’s a time-consuming and costly strategy. Read more

Doctor with tablet

ATA and AMA Team Up to Increase Reimbursement for Telehealth

In a move aimed at increasing reimbursement for telehealth services, the American Telemedicine Association (ATA) and American Medical Association (AMA) are working together to suggest new CPT codes to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) later this month. If accepted, the new codes would allow CMS to recognize and reimburse more telemedicine services. Read more

rural road leads to distant mountains

USDA Announces Grants for Rural Telemedicine

On November 19, in honor of National Rural Health Day, the U.S. Department of Agriculture bestowed $23.4 million in awards to expand rural telemedicine and mental health services, as well as distance education, for 75 projects in 31 states. The grants will help increase access to health care in rural areas with a shortage of providers for emergency medical care, routine examinations, virtual rounds, behavioral health services, and specialty services. Read more

Mobile health is here to stay!

Mobile Health: Patients Want It All

When it comes to combining personal health with the convenience of mobile devices, what do smartphone users really want? A recent study suggests that people want to be fully engaged online, including accessing their health records and communicating with their healthcare providers—all from their phones and tablets. It’s a great idea in theory, but can everything actually fit into one application? Read more

sick girl laying in hospital bed

Mobile Video Conferencing Brings Virtual Visits to Intensive Care

The MassGeneral Hospital for Children Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) has found two intriguing uses for mobile video conferencing: comforting anxious families and consulting physicians at home.

Sometimes, parents can’t be at their child’s bedside. While the hospital strives to make visiting family members comfortable with in-room beds and desks, they help reduce absent parents’ anxiety by loaning them tablet devices. With secure mobile video conferencing, parents can see, hear, and interact with their children, physicians, and nurses—in essence, “being there” without actually being there. Read more

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

Man using laptop for telemedicine

Telemedicine for Parkinson’s Patients May Increase Compliance, Care

Telemedicine has been making headlines for facilitating timely stroke treatment and increasing access to care in rural areas, but other specialties are finding substantial benefits, too. This summer, preliminary results from a randomized clinical trial of telemedicine for Parkinson’s patients were released; these initial findings look very promising. 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

Schoolboy with sore throat

Telemedicine in Schools Makes It Harder to Play Hooky

With the rapid growth of telemedicine, missing school to see the doctor may soon be unheard of.

Thanks to a grant, Burke County Public Schools will implement Health-e-Schools program this fall. This initiative, offered by North Carolina’s Center for Rural Health Innovation, is being funded by a $701,207 grant from the Duke Endowment Grant Project.

The grant was earmarked for rural areas with less access to healthcare than urban regions. By introducing telemedicine in schools, the program will make it easier and faster for students to receive care. The goal of the initiative is to extend the reach of primary care physicians, rather than replace them. 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/.