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swyMed_mobile_stroke_unit: mHealth Technology makes teleStroke and ET3 programs possible

mHealth Technology Takes ET3 from Concept to Reality

The long-awaited ET3 program is finally here! After delays caused by the pandemic, the Emergency Triage, Treat, and Transport (ET3) program went into effect on January 1, 2021. To support this initiative, swyMed and Logitech are working together to provide the mHealth technology (mobile real-time audio-visual communications) that makes the ET3 program possible. Read more

Telemedicine Regulations Represented by Stethoscope, Gavel, and Laptop

The Future of Telemedicine Regulations under the Biden Administration

Twelve months ago, few, if any, could have predicted that the public health emergency caused by the COVID-19 pandemic would linger on into a new presidential administration. Dissatisfied by the lackluster pandemic relief bill passed by Congress and signed by President Trump just before Christmas, which failed to extend the pandemic’s eased stance on telemedicine regulations, industry stakeholders are now looking to President-elect Biden and the 117th Congress to sanction more permanent measures in order to preserve the sudden rise in telemedicine usage during the pandemic. Read more

Telemedicine for Emergency Rooms Raises Efficiency and Access to Hospital Beds

Telemedicine in Emergency Rooms: An Initial Look

Overcrowding in emergency departments has long been a universal problem that ultimately compromises patient care quality and experience. Venturing into a seldom-studied niche, researchers explored the application of telemedicine in emergency rooms for care delivery; they found that implementing this practice led to reduced patients’ average lengths of stay and wait times while improving physicians’ efficiency and maintaining care quality and patient cost. Read more

EMT examining little girl's leg injury for telemedicine in-home visit

A New Normal? Telemedicine In-Home Visits May Include Primary Care

Integrating telemedicine into emergency medical services is nothing new, but the focus thus far has revolved around acute cases and specialties such as telestroke. However, in a recently released proof of concept, researchers questioned this trend and applied the model of telemedicine in-home visits to primary care services. This preliminary observatory study suggests that using telemedicine to bring primary care services into the patient’s home may be feasible, effective, and satisfactory for homebound seniors with chronic medical conditions. Read more

Woman writing "Fraud Prevention" on a clear board, referring to telemedicine fraud

Telemedicine Fraud Plagues Industry Growth

Last March, during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, Medicare temporarily eased the telemedicine requirements for reimbursement in order to increase access to care and reserve in-office visits for the sickest patients; in this way, Americans have been able to reduce exposure to COVID-19, for both themselves and healthcare workers, while continuing to receive needed care. However, the unprecedented rapid growth of telemedicine has been accompanied by a rise in telemedicine fraud cases and abuses. Whatever the error may be, the Department of Justice (DOJ) has begun holding offenders accountable for their actions. Ultimately, the telemedicine industry and healthcare providers will find themselves under closer scrutiny in the future. Read more

"Paid in Full" rubber stamp, representing zero cost sharing for telemedicine

Pandemic Freebies Are Ending—It’s Time for Cost Sharing for Telemedicine

During the anxiety-fraught early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, most major insurers joined the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) in waiving co-pays and deductibles for telemedicine visits — cost sharing for telemedicine — in order to encourage people to remain at home, thus reducing possible exposure and transmission of COVID. The public, many of whom were new to telemedicine, readily adopted the technology in favor of convenience and safety, reduced costs, and less travel. Now, however, those halcyon days may be gone. Some major private health insurers have stated that as of Oct. 1, they are no longer paying the full costs for virtual visits that are unrelated to COVID; instead, patients are expected to pay a portion of the costs for the virtual visit, as is the norm for in-person visits. Read more

Gavel for Healthcare

Are Lightened Telemedicine Regulations Here to Stay?

As we’ve noted previously, the COVID-19 pandemic has thrust telemedicine into the spotlight with pro tem lifted telemedicine regulation, allowing both patients and providers to embrace low-contact methods for accessing healthcare. Now, several months into the COVID-19 pandemic, industry stakeholders are examining the currently active telemedicine regulations to determine which changes would encourage medical facilities and providers, ranging from small-practice primary care providers to tertiary care hospitals, to permanently add telemedicine to their routine options for health care delivery. Read more

sick man on telemedicine house call with doctor

Telemedicine House Calls: Our Past Is Catching up to Our Future

After years of evolution, the health care delivery system is slowly returning to its roots: house calls. In the 1800s, ailing patients remained at home, waiting for the roaming doctor to arrive via horseback. By the mid-20th century, home visits were abandoned in favor of bringing ill patients to the doctor’s stationary office. Fast forward to the 2020s: The ubiquitous nature of technology, paired with looming physician shortages and climbing health care costs, is bringing us full circle via telemedicine house calls. Along with the highly touted benefits of in-home virtual visits, clinicians have found that this method provides information about the patient’s home environment that is often overlooked during traditional office visits. This additional insight can be a major factor in designing an appropriate treatment plan that accounts for the daily obstacles presented in the patient’s home. Read more

Possible Telemedicine CPT Codes Shutdown Looms

Telemedicine CPT Codes in Danger

We may still be in the throes of the COVID-19 pandemic, but that isn’t stopping policy makers from planning ahead to determine whether temporary telemedicine CPT codes should be a permanent part of the “new normal” that is expected to reign after the emergency situation dissipates. As mentioned previously, quick changes to legislation, especially those that reimburse telemedicine visits at the same value as in-office visits, made telemedicine a much more convenient and financially viable alternative to the traditional model of in-office visits—for both patients and providers. As we look ahead to 2021, however, debate surrounds the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS)’ decision to drop a large majority of the recently-enacted billing codes, which may return the state of telemedicine almost to where it was before the pandemic began. Read more

Doctor warning during telemedicine visit on laptop

Is Telemedicine Losing Its Novelty?

Considering the eagerness with which the health care industry embraced telemedicine as COVID-19 started circling the world, it may seem surprising that lately, physicians have been less enthused than they were earlier in the pandemic. Initially, physicians and industry watchers predicted the widespread adoption of telemedicine as a permanent aspect of primary care. However, a recent report reveals an unexpected trend: In one large health care company, telemedicine usage has been falling steadily since late April. What happened to the early enthusiasm? Read more