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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

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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

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First Health Systems Earn Telemedicine Accreditation

With telemedicine as a rapidly growing industry, how can patients tell if a healthcare system’s telemedicine program is high quality? The ClearHealth Quality Institute (CHQI), an independent health care accrediting body, has created a telemedicine/telehealth accreditation program—the only one in the US that’s supported by the American Telemedicine Association (ATA). And now, the University of California San Diego Health and the Texas-based CHRISTUS Good Shepherd Health System are the first two health systems in the nation to have earned Telemedicine Accreditation. Read more

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Telemedicine Payment Parity Fails in Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania remains one of the few states that still lacks a dedicated Telemedicine Act. In an attempt to address both telemedicine payment parity and professional regulation in one Act, Pennsylvania Senate Bill 780—including its clause on coverage and reimbursement for its use—was unanimously approved last June by two Pennsylvania Senate committees, the full Senate, and the House Professional Licensure Committee. However, it failed to pass in the House of Representatives in October. Read more

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College Telepsychiatry Finally Catching Up—Slowly

The majority of American college students feel overwhelmed, depressed, and/or anxious, according to the latest American College Health Association survey. Unfortunately, many schools lack easy access to needed mental health care—if they have any at all. And this doesn’t even take into account the students’ hesitation to seek help due to the stigma often associated with mental illnesses. With the growth of telemedicine, telepsychiatry and telemental health present a viable solution that could overcome many of these challenges. Read more

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Walmart Offers Free Telemedicine for Consumers

The next time you head to Walmart, you may pick up more than just your groceries and cold medicine—you might also take home a voucher for a no-cost telemedicine consultation with Doctor On Demand, a direct-to-consumer virtual care provider. A new three-way partnership between Walmart, Doctor On Demand, and RB, a leading consumer health and hygiene company, is seeking to provide the public with unprecedented access to physicians from their digital devices during this cold and flu season through telemedicine for consumers. Read more

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Hospitalizations Drop with SNF Telemedicine

Previously, we’ve discussed the pending Reducing Unnecessary Senior Hospitalizations Act of 2018 (RUSH Act) and the potential impact it could have by allowing Medicare to participate in SNF telemedicine (skilled nursing facilities) to keep residents healthier and reduce hospital admissions. However, some facilities aren’t waiting for the bill to pass; they’re charging ahead with SNF telemedicine services, and they’re already seeing results. Read more

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SUPPORT Act Eases Way for Telemedicine for Opioid Treatment

This week, on the one-year anniversary of declaring a national opioid public health emergency, President Trump signed into law the bipartisan “Substance Use-Disorder Prevention that Promotes Opioid Recovery and Treatment for Patients and Communities Act,” known as the “SUPPORT Act” for short. The goals of the legislation are to reduce “access to and the supply of opioids” and expand “access to prevention, treatment, and recovery services” through multiple angles, including via telemedicine for opioid treatment. Read more

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The Future of Telemedicine for Home Health Care: Tracking Vital Signs with a Camera

A key component of Remote Patient Monitoring and its successor, Remote Patient Evaluation, is measuring the patient’s vital signs. Traditionally, this has been accomplished through the use of medical devices, however unreliable or complicated, that sometimes must be operated by healthcare providers dispatched to the patient’s home. Both the devices and home visits can be expensive, thus increasing the program’s bottom-line. So if the purpose of using telemedicine for home health care is to raise patient convenience while reducing costs, how can we measure a home health patient’s vital signs accurately, easily, and cost-effectively? Read more

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Consumers Ready for In-Home Telemedicine

When it comes to health care, what do consumers want? According to the Deloitte 2018 Survey of US Consumers, consumers are looking for convenient and in-network health care providers, wearable devices and apps to use at home, and the ability to share personal health data from the wearable devices. These priorities suggest that consumers are ready to embrace in-home telemedicine, which can address all three desires easily. Read more