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/.

Preparing Big Stuff for HIMSS 2015

swyMed at HIMSS 2015 booth 7164

I admit it’s been too long since I last posted here. Well, I have an excuse…

We’ve been busy getting ready for the HIMSS and ATA 2015 conferences. We’re very excited to be going because we believe this is the year swyMed really makes its presence known in the healthcare space.

At HIMSS we will be introducing some very special technology for home health use as well as new partnerships that will make the deployment and delivery of healthcare even easier. Read more

New York Telehealth

New York joins the Telemedicine Party…er, Parity

New York Telehealth

Making a momentous step forward, last week New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed into law a bill requiring private insurers to cover telehealth and telemedicine coverage, retroactive to January 1st, 2015 (Happy New Year!).

That was not a redundant sentence: New York has differentiated between telehealth and telemedicine in the bill, with the primary difference being that telemedicine must include Read more

senior patient using swyMed tablet

Introducing the New User Type: Patient

senior patient using swyMed tablet

In response to customer requests, we have just added new user type for our software: “Patient.” Patient users are not able to search the user directory, meaning that a care provider can keep all their patients in their groups and directories for easy access while maintaining the utmost privacy. A doctor can give a patient swyMed software, set them up with a Patient account with the doctor in the presence list, and the patient can’t search or see other doctors or patients, fully complying with HIPAA.

We created this user type so that swyMed can be given to individuals on their home PCs, smartphones or tablets, to connect to their doctor, and know that their privacy is protected.

In the past, most of our clients installed our software on devices owned by their facility, which either restricted use to the facility or required loaning devices to patients. Now with the Patient user type, they can throw the doors open and give the software to anyone, anywhere.

This is just one more way that we are allowing our healthcare customers to have the workflow they want, rather than a Rube Goldberg procedure for contacting patients while maintaining full compliance.

Max Life emergency response

Emergency Response Day Video from ITS World Congress

Max Life, with whom we provide remote urgent care, remote ER screening, and mobile trauma care, participated in the the ITS (Intelligent Transport Systems) World Congress Emergency Response Day back in September. It may be several months later, but the ITS has released this wonderful video on YouTube showcasing the Mock Incident exercise. Max Life can be seen starting at the 1:06 mark, showcasing swyMed’s telemedicine communication platform inside their ambulance beginning at 1:27.  However, watch the entire thing. It’s less than three minutes and provides a great example of how telemedicine can play an important role in emergency response.

Maybe You Can get Reimbursed for That…

Treasure In Paper

Last week I posted a press release from the ATA about expanded Medicare coverage for Telemedicine.  Well, I decided to actually read the 1200 page rulemaking from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).  You can guess why it’s taken a week to write a follow up article…

Actually, no.  I didn’t read the entire rulemaking, only the pages relevant to all things “tele” in medicine and healthcare.  In doing so, I was reminded of something interesting:

There are a number of procedures already covered by Medicare without specific telemedicine codes.  In fact, of the seven bullet points listing the 22 codes rejected or deleted from inclusion, five noted the affected codes were largely unnecessary due to either an existing telehealth code or because Medicare does not distinguish whether the procedure is tele or not.

Here are a few examples:

Regarding electrocardiograms and echocardiograms: “By definition, Read more

7 Things We Learned from the 2014 Connected Health Symposium

Last week we participated at the Connected Health Symposium hosted by Partners Healthcare in Boston.  Jeff Urdan, our COO, gave a presentation on swyMed for the fourth annual Innovators Challenge, a symposium event to draw attention to, as they say on their website, “products that are genuinely new and potentially game-changing for connected health.”  He also had a chance to report back on his key takeaways from the event.

1)     Wearables May Take Over the World

Lots of companies are doing cool things with wearable sensors sending data to smart phones.  At the Innovators Challenge alone there were:

  • Basis – a fitness and sleep tracker watch conceptually similar to the iWatch and Samsung (but better of course!)
  • FeverSmart – a temperature monitor for tracking fever.  It is intended for babies so parents can know both how the child is trending and can give actual data to their pediatrician rather than guesstimates…but imagine the Ebola applications for monitoring people who might have been exposed and need to be monitored for the 21 day incubation period!
  • GoodLux Technology – measures light exposure which has been shown to impact both seasonal affective disorder and depression.

Read more

An Open Letter and Call To Action to the Telemedicine Industry

 

reimbursement boulder in road crop

“Is your cucumber bitter? Throw it away. Are there briars in your path? Turn aside. That is enough.”
Marcus Aurelius, Meditations.

For an industry full of innovators, there’s a distinct lack of innovation in overcoming the reimbursement issue.  I believe this is largely because we’ve trained ourselves to continue focusing on reimbursement, rather than discovering how to make the lack of reimbursement work for us or on creating a new model of telemedicine that makes reimbursement an afterthought.

If you believe telemedicine won’t expand until reimbursement is solved, why are any of us involved in Telemedicine?  (I assume it’s to improve healthcare, which means we shouldn’t let reimbursement stop us.)

This is not to say that reimbursement is not impo Read more