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Telemedicine Specialists: A New Discipline?

Considering the steady growth of the telemedicine industry, two physicians at New York-Presbyterian have proposed the creation of a new specialty representing the “medical virtualist.” In a recent JAMA Viewpoint article, the authors cite a combination of the lack of oversight, inconsistent training, and specific skill sets, including webside manner, as compelling reasons for certifying full-time telemedicine specialists with a defined set of core competencies. Read more

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Remote Patient Evaluation (RPE) Is Ready for Primetime

To date, remote patient monitoring (RPM) has used digital technologies to collect health data from patients in one place and transmit that information securely to case managers somewhere else. This approach has proven useful for caregivers to prioritize follow-ups and monitor compliance as they have easy access to real-time data such as: weight, glucose levels, blood pressure, heart rate, air flow and even subjective survey data trends measured by patients in the comfort of their homes. Read more

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Proposed Rule Would Allow VA Telemedicine Providers to Treat Patients across State Lines

If the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs gets its way, VA telemedicine providers will soon be exempt from state restrictions that prohibit physicians from seeing patients in another state without being licensed to practice there. The goal of the proposed rule, the Veterans E-health and Telemedicine Support Act of 2017, is to increase veterans’ access to care and timeliness of treatment, especially in rural and underserved areas. Read more

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Pediatric Telemedicine Combats Child Blindness

With few eye specialists on hand, how do you fight preventable infant blindness? Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, the largest pediatric multispecialty medical group in the U.S., approached the problem with technology. Rather than waiting for infrequent medical missions trips to Armenia, Thomas Lee, MD, and his team use pediatric telemedicine so that specialists in L.A. can train surgeons in remote locations and empower them to combat child blindness without waiting for assistance. Read more

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Harvey’s Youngest Evacuees Saved by Newest Telemedicine Legislation

It’s a good thing that Texas just passed a law easing restrictions on telemedicine visits; otherwise, countless children displaced by Hurricane Harvey would likely be unable to receive prompt medical care for recent injuries, infections, or chronic conditions like asthma. Luckily, the new telemedicine legislation permits real-time visits without an initial in-person visit, allowing doctors across the state to see the children through the technology. Read more

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Rural Telemedicine to Assist Sexual Assault Victims

Thanks to a grant from the U.S. Department of Justice, the Penn State College of Nursing is launching a pilot program to improve the identification and treatment of sexual assault cases through rural telemedicine. Later this year, four rural health sites will be linked to the Pennsylvania Sexual Assault Forensic Examination and Telehealth (SAFE-T) Center on the Penn State campus; through this program, nurses in the rural regions will be able to train to become forensic Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners (SANEs) or connect with a SANE immediately via telemedicine when a sexual assault victim comes to the facility. Read more

woman using telemedicine follow-up app

Telemedicine Follow-Up Visits May Work Well for Ambulatory Surgeries

Soon, women recovering from breast reconstruction surgery may be able to follow up with physicians on their smartphones rather than traveling to the clinic. A recent study in JAMA Surgery found that using a telemedicine follow-up mobile app with a questionnaire and patient-provided photos resulted in less office visits and more satisfied and engaged patients with no significant difference in complication rates when compared to patients with in-office visits. Read more

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Tele-ICU May Improve Outcomes Both During and After ICU Stays

Thanks to telemedicine, ICU patients may soon have more timely access to specialists and more specialty care after discharge from the ICU environment. At Hawaii’s North Hawaii Community Hospital (NHCH), patients who need critical care are enjoying the benefits of the tele-ICU system that allows patients to receive state-of-the-art care without the treatment delays caused by inter-island transfers to the main facility on Oahu. Meanwhile, at Indiana University, researchers are currently conducting trials for elderly patients who experienced delirium during their ICU visits to determine whether training and exercises delivered via telemedicine can improve the patients’ quality of life. Read more

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Keeping Telemedicine HIPAA-Compliant

Two rising trends are on a collision course: telemedicine and healthcare data breaches. As increasing numbers of healthcare organizations implement or expand telemedicine programs, and as more patients rely on text messages, email, or video to communicate with providers, personal health information (PHI) is at more risk than ever before. Now considered worth 10 times more than credit card information, as reported by Reuters, PHI is an attractive target for unscrupulous hackers. Thus, it is imperative that healthcare organizations and vendors prioritize security and compliance measures and keep telemedicine HIPAA-compliant. Read more