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3-direction Street Signs for telemedicine benefits for employees

Navigating Telemedicine Benefits for Employees, Part 2

Last week, after observing that the vast majority of large employers either offer or plan to offer telemedicine benefits for employees, we considered the logistics of how a company might choose to launch such a program. Three methods present viable options: adding telemedicine as a new feature of a group health plan, incorporating telemedicine as part of an Employee Assistance Program (EAP), or creating a stand-alone telemedicine benefit. In all three cases, compliance with legal and regulatory requirements is non-negotiable; who bears the brunt of the responsibility depends on the strategy selected. In last week’s blog post, we explored the pros and cons of appending telemedicine benefits to a group health plan. Today, we’ll consider the other two approaches. Read more

3-direction Street Signs for telemedicine benefits for employees

Navigating Telemedicine Benefits for Employees

According to a survey conducted by the National Business Group on Health, 96 percent of large employers are either making or planning to make telemedicine available to their employees. Considering the time and cost savings for patients, insurance companies, and employers, this sounds like it could be a panacea. However, the logistics of implementing telemedicine benefits for employees are far from simple. An employer, whether insured or self-funded, who wants to provide telemedicine services can do so in one of three ways: integrate telemedicine as part of a group health plan, bundle telemedicine services as part of an Employee Assistance Program (EAP), or offer telemedicine services separately as a stand-alone benefit. Each method carries varying degrees of compliance issues with state and federal laws such as ERISA. 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

ambulance with telemedicine reimbursement

Ambulances in Line for Telemedicine Reimbursement

Starting early next year, the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) will begin a trial program with new financial incentives, including telemedicine reimbursement, to encourage emergency medical services (EMS) to use telemedicine and transport Medicare and Medicaid patients to clinics other than the emergency room. Currently, only visits to hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, and dialysis centers are reimbursed, even when a lower-acuity destination may be more appropriate. The goal is two-fold: to promote a value-based payment system and to reduce unnecessary ER visits and hospitalizations. Read more

CT scan stroke telestroke

swyMed and Life Image Team Up to Expand Telestroke Offering

Today, swyMed and Life Image, the world’s largest global network for sharing clinical and imaging data that is powered by industry leading interoperability standards, announced a strategic partnership to enhance telestroke capabilities. This collaboration will integrate relevant clinical and imaging data into the telemedicine encounter, thus improving physicians’ ability to collaborate and coordinate patient care. In addition, since Life Image already supports more than 140 stroke centers across the U.S., the partnership will strengthen swyMed’s ability to connect with these neurologists and primary stroke centers. Read more

Curious boy hearing secret

DOT Telemedicine Backpack: Secrets Revealed

If you’ve ever wondered just how swyMed’s DOT Telemedicine Backpack can maintain a strong, reliable internet connection in low-bandwidth environments, you’re not alone—it’s a question that has intrigued many curious minds. It does carry redundant dual-modem connections and antennas, but the secret ingredient is none other than the Silver Peak Unity EdgeConnect™ software-defined wide-area networking (SD-WAN) edge platform. As explained in a recent Network World article, this technology improves the performance of existing wireless network communications and is able to connect even when it’s far from wireless towers. Read more

North Sea fishing cutter

Bringing mHealth to Alaska’s Fishermen

Popularized by TV shows like “Deadliest Catch,” fishing in the northern Pacific and the Bering Sea has been shown to be a dangerous occupation. Even worse, traditionally there has been no access to healthcare while at sea; anyone with medical issues had to either wait until the ship returns to port or summon a costly emergency extraction by helicopter in unforgiving weather conditions. However, with the advent of telemedicine and mHealth, things are changing; as long as they can hold a good Internet connection, they have instant access to physicians who can direct those on board in giving care and support to start treatment and improve triage. Recently, Alaska Maritime Physicians (AMP) partnered with DrChrono to do just that. Read more

Butterfly iQ photo

New Handheld Telemedicine Ultrasound Will Revolutionize Mobile Healthcare

As telemedicine brings health care beyond hospital walls, medical devices are quickly following—like the portable ultrasound. Unlike traditional ultrasound machines or even unwieldy 10-pound laptop ultrasounds, the newest handheld telemedicine ultrasound to hit the market—the Butterfly iQ—fits easily in a doctor’s pocket, carries an affordable price tag, and promises to help EMTs and physicians diagnose patients in the field and en route to the hospital. Some experts are even hailing this development as the equivalent of the introduction of smartphones or tablets in the computing world, saying that we’re only beginning to see the implications of the mobile ultrasound. Read more

"equal pay" street signs

Telemedicine Payment Parity Fails in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania remains one of the few states that still lacks a dedicated Telemedicine Act. In an attempt to address both telemedicine payment parity and professional regulation in one Act, Pennsylvania Senate Bill 780—including its clause on coverage and reimbursement for its use—was unanimously approved last June by two Pennsylvania Senate committees, the full Senate, and the House Professional Licensure Committee. However, it failed to pass in the House of Representatives in October. Read more