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work injury being treated via telemedicine for workers' compensation

Telemedicine for Workers’ Compensation Is a Win

Buoyed by convenience, along with time and cost savings, employers and workers’ compensation insurers have begun eagerly offering telemedicine as an alternative to visiting an urgent care center. Originally, telemedicine for workers’ compensation was billed as a solution for employees in rural areas, where access to health clinics is limited. However, the program has been so well received that insurers have begun offering telemedicine in urban areas as well. Additionally, healthcare providers are finding that telemedicine is useful for more than just treating the initial injury on-site; the platform works well for follow-up appointments and post-op visits too. Read more

School nurse taking care of student for telemedicine consult

Direct-to-Consumer Telemedicine May Shift Primary Care Focus

As the public increasingly turns to direct-to-consumer telemedicine services for minor ailments, rather than rushing to urgent care centers or doctors’ offices, industry experts are predicting a shift in the nature of the primary-care clinic as one of the largest impacts of this phenomenon. Studies are starting to show that patients are turning to telemedicine instead of visiting an emergency department or urgent-care center, saving healthcare systems tens of millions of dollars each year. As telemedicine becomes more integrated into the way healthcare is provided, some experts believe it will become a routine, expected service instead of a special, additional feature. 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

young man sleeping with CPAP machine

Sleep Telemedicine Promises to Ease Shortage—But Only If It’s Reimbursed

As telemedicine has evolved over the years, sleep medicine has advanced accordingly to incorporate the growing technologies into the field. As described by Barry Fields, MD, MSEd, an assistant professor of medicine at Emory University School of Medicine and a sleep physician at the Atlanta VA Medical Center in a recent interview with Pulmonology Consultant, sleep telemedicine first began as telephone calls between the patient and provider. Now, anyone with a smartphone and the appropriate app can participate in synchronous (real-time) sleep telemedicine. Read more

illustration of brain tumor

Teleneurology Offers a Second Look at Brain Tumors

A diagnosis of a brain tumor often brings fear and lengthy travel to a far-away specialist for a second opinion. The fear is understandable, but a teleneurology program is making strides in bringing brain tumor diagnoses and treatment options to the patient, rather than bringing the patient to the doctor. The Penn Brain Tumor Center has launched their Brain Tumor Second Opinion Program to help patients and caregivers understand the diagnosis and choose among treatment plans without traveling long distances. Read more

cowboy boots with scrubs

Rural Telemedicine Revives Local Hospitals

For smaller, rural hospitals, survival has become the name of the game—and not just for their patients. Keeping a physician on hand at all times in the Emergency Department (ED) is costly but necessary; unfortunately, this often results in rising salary costs and harried staff. However, hospitals participating in a hub-and-spoke rural telemedicine network are finding that rather than paying a physician to stay whether or not an emergency occurs, having instant access to physicians at a larger health system instead improves care management in the local ED and preserves limited resources—as well as boost staff morale and make it easier to attract new talent. Read more

handing over stacks of cash

Did Medicare Overpay for Telemedicine Reimbursement?

Amidst concerns that current levels of telemedicine reimbursement are insufficient to support the demand for telemedicine visits, a 2018 report by the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General (OIG) reveals that a significant portion of the Medicare telemedicine payments that have occurred were actually improper; they never should have been approved in the first place. The overpayments amounted to roughly $3.7 million—a sizable chunk of the total $13.8 million in payments that Medicare made in 2014 and 2015. The reasons for the disallowed claims were numerous and varied. Read more

paper money falling into piggy bank

Telemedicine Cost Savings Are Just Beginning

Telemedicine has long been touted as a balm for rising healthcare costs. Indeed, a 2017 report from the Rural Broadband Association found that annual telemedicine cost savings averaged $20,841 per hospital in the US. Some believe that telemedicine, including remote patient monitoring, could shave a combined $4.3 billion off the country’s yearly healthcare bill. While a first glance at the cost savings looks promising, digging deeper reveals that several obstacles are still preventing us from maximizing the benefits of telemedicine; this suggests that, with full support, cost savings could be driven higher yet. Read more

farm along country road in Southern York County, PA

Rural Telemedicine Growing More Slowly than Expected

Telemedicine has been touted as a revolutionary solution to the shortage of physicians in rural areas, but a recent study published in JAMA suggests that although this trend may have begun, it has not yet snowballed as expected. Between 2005 and 2017, 83.3% of patients with commercial insurance who used telemedicine services lived in urban areas. This suggests that they were not driven to use telemedicine by a shortage of physicians, but rather by other factors such as convenience. Such a surprising result seems contrary to the belief that rural patients are seeking greater access to physicians; if this were the case, then one might expect more rural telemedicine than urban telemedicine. Read more

bar graph growing upwards w magnifying glass

Telemedicine Usage Exploding since 2005

According to a new study published in JAMA, telemedicine use has been skyrocketing since 2005. Researchers, curious about the adoption pattern of telemedicine, examined the trends in telemedicine use and its association with factors such as parity legislation and physician supply within a large commercial health plan. They found that from 2005 to 2017, telemedicine usage grew from 206 visits in 2005 to about 202,300 visits in 2017. Telemedicine usage expanded the most in primary care and telemental health (telepsychiatry); this rise, they surmise, may be largely due to increasing payer coverage for direct-to-consumer telemedicine. Read more