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Thumbs up for VA telehealth services

Senate Bill Seeks to Expand VA Telehealth Services

A bipartisan bill in the U.S. Senate seeks to increase veterans’ healthcare access by expanding telehealth services across state lines for the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). According to current law, the VA may waive the state licensure requirement only if the patient and doctor are both at a federally owned facility; additionally, at-home VA telehealth services are permitted only if the patient and doctor are in the same state. These mandates make it difficult for rural and disabled veterans to obtain appropriate care due to onerous travel requirements and state restrictions. Read more

Man using laptop for telemedicine

Telemedicine for Parkinson’s Patients May Increase Compliance, Care

Telemedicine has been making headlines for facilitating timely stroke treatment and increasing access to care in rural areas, but other specialties are finding substantial benefits, too. This summer, preliminary results from a randomized clinical trial of telemedicine for Parkinson’s patients were released; these initial findings look very promising. Read more

Schoolboy with sore throat

Telemedicine in Schools Makes It Harder to Play Hooky

With the rapid growth of telemedicine, missing school to see the doctor may soon be unheard of.

Thanks to a grant, Burke County Public Schools will implement Health-e-Schools program this fall. This initiative, offered by North Carolina’s Center for Rural Health Innovation, is being funded by a $701,207 grant from the Duke Endowment Grant Project.

The grant was earmarked for rural areas with less access to healthcare than urban regions. By introducing telemedicine in schools, the program will make it easier and faster for students to receive care. The goal of the initiative is to extend the reach of primary care physicians, rather than replace them. Read more

New York Telehealth

New York joins the Telemedicine Party…er, Parity

New York Telehealth

Making a momentous step forward, last week New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed into law a bill requiring private insurers to cover telehealth and telemedicine coverage, retroactive to January 1st, 2015 (Happy New Year!).

That was not a redundant sentence: New York has differentiated between telehealth and telemedicine in the bill, with the primary difference being that telemedicine must include Read more

Hoping CMS’ Proposed ACO Rules Get Better

CMS helping a bit

Recently, CMS (the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services) released a proposal of new rulemaking asking for comments on easing “telehealth” requirements for ACOs (Accountable Care Organizations). You can find a wonderful press release here from the ATA (American Telemedicine Association), who was instrumental in getting CMS to reconsider their earlier rules.

Having reviewed the proposal, I had to remind myself that CMS (and, ultimately, the Department of Health and Human Services) is to actually very committed to enabling greater adoption of telehealth, and that their final rules have historically been heavily modified from their proposals. Having said that–and I’m no doctor or lawyer–but I felt this proposal to use waivers rather than simply waiving antiquated requirements just adds red tape where there shouldn’t be any. Does anyone else get that sense?

First, a quick statement of why s Read more

Maybe You Can get Reimbursed for That…

Treasure In Paper

Last week I posted a press release from the ATA about expanded Medicare coverage for Telemedicine.  Well, I decided to actually read the 1200 page rulemaking from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).  You can guess why it’s taken a week to write a follow up article…

Actually, no.  I didn’t read the entire rulemaking, only the pages relevant to all things “tele” in medicine and healthcare.  In doing so, I was reminded of something interesting:

There are a number of procedures already covered by Medicare without specific telemedicine codes.  In fact, of the seven bullet points listing the 22 codes rejected or deleted from inclusion, five noted the affected codes were largely unnecessary due to either an existing telehealth code or because Medicare does not distinguish whether the procedure is tele or not.

Here are a few examples:

Regarding electrocardiograms and echocardiograms: “By definition, Read more

ATA Celebrates Halloween Telemedicine Treats for Medicare Beneficiaries

WASHINGTON – Saturday, Nov. 1, 2014 — Yesterday, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued a rulemaking that includes significant additional coverage for telemedicine services.

“This Halloween, Medicare beneficiaries got an important treat for home care of chronic care management, remote patient monitoring of chronic conditions, and other services when provided via telehealth,” said Jonathan Linkous, CEO of the American Telemedicine Association. The association has been asking CMS for such coverage for over five years.

Buried in an almost 1200-page rulemaking about 2015 Medicare payments to physicians and practitioners were provisions paying for remote chronic care management using a new current procedural terminology (CPT) code, 99490, with a monthly unadjusted, non-facility fee of $42.60. Also, Medicare will pay for remote-patient monitoring of chronic conditions with a monthly unadjusted, non-facility fee of $56.92 using CPT code 99091. Prior to this, Medicare did not pay separately for such services, requiring that such billing be bundled with an “evaluation and management” code.

Also in the rulemaking were seven new covered procedure codes for telehealth including annual wellness visits, psychotherapy services, and prolonged services in the office.

“It has been a long time coming, but this rulemaking signals a clear and bold step in the right direction for Medicare,” added Linkous. “This allows providers to use telemedicine technology to improve the cost and quality of healthcare delivery.”

Read the full document here: http://www.regulations.gov/#!documentDetail;D=CMS-2014-0094-2363. To learn more about telemedicine and public policy, visit http://www.americantelemed.org/policy/overview-news.

About the American Telemedicine Association

The American Telemedicine Association is the leading international resource and advocate promoting the use of advanced remote medical technologies. ATA and its diverse membership work to fully integrate telemedicine into healthcare systems to improve quality, equity and affordability of healthcare throughout the world. Established in 1993, ATA is headquartered in Washington, DC. For more information visit www.americantelemed.org.

Media Contact:
Mimi Hubbard
mhubbard@americantelemed.org
202-659-7616

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An Open Letter and Call To Action to the Telemedicine Industry

 

reimbursement boulder in road crop

“Is your cucumber bitter? Throw it away. Are there briars in your path? Turn aside. That is enough.”
Marcus Aurelius, Meditations.

For an industry full of innovators, there’s a distinct lack of innovation in overcoming the reimbursement issue.  I believe this is largely because we’ve trained ourselves to continue focusing on reimbursement, rather than discovering how to make the lack of reimbursement work for us or on creating a new model of telemedicine that makes reimbursement an afterthought.

If you believe telemedicine won’t expand until reimbursement is solved, why are any of us involved in Telemedicine?  (I assume it’s to improve healthcare, which means we shouldn’t let reimbursement stop us.)

This is not to say that reimbursement is not impo Read more

swyMe selected to present at the Innovators Challenge

Dateline Boston: Sept 11, 2014

swyMe, a leader in delivering secure, mobile, high quality video for connected health, mHealth and telehealth through their swyMed product, announced that it has been selected as one of 10 organizations in the Partners Healthcare Innovators Challenge (http://symposium.connected-health.org/innovators-challenge). swyMe will be presenting at the Partner’s Connected Health Symposium 2014 (http://symposium.connected-health.org/) in Boston on October 23rd and 24th, 2014 at the Seaport Hotel and World Trade Center.

“Partners HealthCare was Read more

Telemedicine Reimbursement vs. Decreased Readmissions

readmission

The question of reimbursement is very, very important. But not as important as you might think.  As promised a couple weeks ago, we want to look more in depth at the third of our takeaways from the 2014 American Telehealth Conference…especially in light of new developments that have popped up in the news since then.

First, to  bring new readers up  …read more…