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Campus telemedicine – students on smartphones

Campus Telemedicine or No Medicine?

College students—famous for their late-night cram sessions and 2 a.m. pizzas—have never been the model of perfect health, but with campuses starting to embrace telemedicine, this could soon change. Today’s students, Generation Z, are the least likely generation to visit a primary care doctor; only 55 percent even have a designated primary care physician, and 1.7 million college students are uninsured. To entice students to seek care more readily when it’s needed, telemedicine start-up 98point6 is partnering with Ohio Wesleyan University to offer students free campus telemedicine services. Read more

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

cartoon of Freud psychoanalyzing brain on couch since telemental health isn't available yet

Telemental Health Crosses State Lines

Over the last several years, the growth of the telemedicine industry and its elimination of geographic barriers have highlighted the impracticality of requiring medical care providers to be licensed in every single state in which their patients live. To overcome this expensive and time-consuming administrative work, several states have banded together to create licensure compacts in which the participating states recognize each other’s medical licenses as being valid within their borders. Perhaps the most well-known agreement is the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact (IMLC) for physicians, although other types of medical providers have formed interstate bonds as well. Now, telemental health is about to receive a boost in popularity: The Psychology Interjurisdictional Compact (PSYPACT) is almost ready to go live. Read more

vector drawing of clinicians at enlarged smartphone with app and pills

DTC Telemedicine: Risk or Relief?

Most talk of telemedicine centers around doctor’s offices, medical facilities, and hospitals, but another segment is drawing increased attention—and unease. Direct-to-consumer telemedicine, in which a telemedicine company links a health care provider with a patient upon the patient’s request, perhaps through a smartphone app or in a supermarket with a private kiosk, has been rising in popularity due to the clear benefits offered by the modality. However, a recent editorial in JAMA brings up serious concerns about the quality of care being provided to these patients via DTC telemedicine. Read more

Telemedicine coverage illustrated by private payer administrator paying telemedicine doctor

Telemedicine Coverage Growing Rapidly, Says ATA Survey

The results are in: 80 percent of US states have taken action to improve telemedicine coverage or reimbursement over the last two years, according to the American Telemedicine Association’s latest survey of state laws and policies. However, each state is working alone in implementing these changes, forcing physicians who practice in more than one state to juggle confusing guidelines. 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

Woman with telerehabilitation instructions from tablet

Telerehabilitation Brings Relief to Cancer Patients

A new study published in JAMA Oncology suggests that for patients with late-stage cancer, telerehabilitation at home—telemedicine with physical therapy-directed pain management—can make a bigger difference than pain medications when it comes to function, pain, and inpatient care. Patients with advanced-stage cancer often experience decreased function, increased pain, and a higher length of hospital stay and use of post-acute care facilities, which altogether can lead to loss of independence. The Collaborative Care to Preserve Performance in Cancer (COPE) study explored whether collaborative telerehabilitation with or without pharmacological pain management could improve these quality-of-life indicators for such patients. Read more

empty emergency room waiting for telemedicine adoption

Emergency Telemedicine Adoption Put on Hold

No matter how much a healthcare facility wants or needs telemedicine, few things can stop telemedicine adoption faster than contrary regulations or laws. This recently proved true in Mississippi, which has just 64.4 primary care physicians per 100,000 residents—far less than the national median of 90.8. To add insult to injury, some rural hospitals have had to close emergency rooms or shut down entirely due to financial difficulties. This setting may look perfect for the implementation of telemedicine as a remedy, but existing state regulations have quickly nixed this potential solution. Read more