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Man jumping on BMX bike over precipice in mountains at sunset.

Four Tips for Minimizing Telemedicine Risks

As we’ve all heard by now, the advantages of telemedicine are numerous: improved patient outcomes, greater quality of care, and cost efficiencies, to name a few. However, with these gains comes an element of uncertainty. As telemedicine continues to challenge long-held boundaries, legal telemedicine risks are coming to light—such as patient confidentiality, security, and professional licensure portability. As health care providers add telemedicine services to their practices, several factors should be addressed to avoid running afoul of legal considerations. 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

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

Two doctors reviewing brain scans on hospital computers

Telemedicine Reimbursement, Savings, and Care—Oh, My!

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has accepted five new Current Procedural Terminology (CPT) codes to allow physicians to be reimbursed for telemedicine specialist consultations and to expand remote patient monitoring conducted via telemedicine. The telemedicine reimbursement codes were originally proposed by the American Medical Association; now approved, they took effect on Jan. 1, 2019. 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

doctor appointment written on calendar

Can Telemedicine Visits Replace In-Person Doctor Appointments?

Most people would agree that a strong doctor-patient relationship is crucial to helping the patient maintain optimal health. Traditionally, this relationship has been cultivated during in-person office visits. With the advent of telemedicine, however, debate has centered on whether telemedicine visits contain enough doctor-patient interaction to build a trusting relationship and provide enough data for the doctor to make an accurate diagnosis. Most recently, the American College of Physicians (ACP) clarified their position on the issue: First-time visits that are conducted via telemedicine must include a live audio-visual component. Read more

doctor using tablet for telemedicine

Whose Telemedicine Usage Is Highest?

Two American Medical Association (AMA) researchers recently evaluated the data from the 2016 Physician Practice Benchmark Survey of AMA in order to estimate telemedicine usage among physicians. The AMA’s survey was the first national survey to examine physicians’ telemedicine utilization rates. Upon examining telemedicine use in patient interactions and in consultations with other health care professionals, the researchers found that particular specialties have higher rates of telemedicine utilization than others, and a larger practice size correlated with a higher likelihood to engage in 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