The Votes Are In

With all of this political talk buzzing around the U.S, it is not surprising that we are opening up the conversation of Telemedicine. Legislation’s Telemedicine bill sailed through the Mississippi House of Representatives and is now awaiting the Senate’s votes.

votes are in medicine

House Bill 1178 was approved by the lower chamber 103-17 and was sent to the Senate Public Health and Welfare for their votes. This House Bill details in 18 pages how to modernize our idea of telemedicine and help telemedicine services expand throughout the state, particularly in rural areas where healthcare is limited. Many have conflicting views about this House Bill and who it’s really helping, whether it be physicians or patients using the telemedicine technology.

With this controversy, Legislation requires that a telemedicine practitioner must be able to offer multiple forms of telemedicine services and cannot be solely telephone or audio services. However, ultimately a physician has final say as to whether video is necessary, depending on his or her interpretation of the standard of care. Research found that 95 percent of Teladoc patients request audio only and only 5 percent request video in addition,  adding that in 7 percent of the cases, a Teladoc patient is referred to a physician for an office visit or to an emergency room.

It is a convenient method of Health and Medical care, not to mention the cost is attractive to most. Telemedicine visits average anywhere from $45-$49 per consultation/visit and the average wait is 12 minutes versus hours of waiting in hospital offices. It may not be for everyone, however, with the way that technology is expanding, it is time that we have more options when it applies to our health. We should not be limited by location, wealth, or situation when it comes down to getting the help we need.

 

Alyssa Pasek

The Movies Have Been Foreshadowing Our Future of Telehealth

Telemedicine, or commonly referred to as Telehealth, may just be a 21st century future game-changer for patients and doctors in terms of health care. Medical consultations and procedures are now being performed remotely over an Internet-connected mobile device or a desktop computer, similar to what we see in science fiction movies. That’s right, think Back to The Future, A.I, or Star Trek.

the movies and medicine

This form of patient care is slowly becoming widely popular as an alternative for emergency care. Telemedicine can currently help provide diagnosis for minor cases such as the common cold, flu, ear infections, pharmaceutical prescriptions, managing chronic conditions, and much more. This type of care is catching on, and i’m not surprised. Already, some hospitals, pharmaceutical, and medical insurance companies are adopting this form of digital health care, including Blue Cross Blue Shield.

Have doubts? Well, Don’t. It is upon us, patients can now look to their technology devices, have their vital signs checked, and let doctors treat them based on their lab results. What makes Telehealth an interesting concept is that these medical procedures can all be done virtually, in the comforts of patients’ own home or office. Imagine that! No more cold rooms, long waits, or uncomfortable meetings.

Picture yourself in a Sci-Fi movie where in the convenience of your own home, office, or pod you can ask a doctor questions, monitor existing conditions, and get prescriptions….Sounds so far fetched but, What if I told you that they have done studies to prove the science behind this technology.

“Key findings from the 2015 Graham Center report showed that 15 percent of family physicians have adopted Telehealth within the last year. Surprisingly, 29 percent of these physicians used Telehealth in the rural setting where diagnoses and treatments were conducted, along with chronic disease management and follow-up with patients.

When its effect on the patient’s health was monitored, 89 percent of the users agreed that it improved their health, along with 77 percent of non-users who perceived that the effect was true.”- ( Hernandez, Vittorio. “Telehealth popularity lifts further with tech advancements.”International Business Times. IBT Media Inc, 17 March 2016.)

Physicians are ready to embrace the technology in helping improve primary care services, provided certain technological issues and regulatory hurdles are resolved. Now it’s time for patients to open their eyes, mind, and ears to learn all they can about Telemedicine and how it can benefit you.

 

Alyssa Pasek

 

Focusing on Better Healthcare Through Information Technology

What is HIMSS, I’m sure you all are asking?  I bet you have no idea that it is right under your nose and being used in your everyday patient visits. HIMSS or Healthcare information and Management Systems Society is a non-profit organization dedicated to improving healthcare quality, safety, cost-effectiveness, and access, through the best use of information technology and management systems.

better healthcare

HIMSS members are known for developing many of today’s key innovations in healthcare delivery and administration, including telemedicine, computer-based patient records, community health information networks, and portable/wireless healthcare computing. Some of the best technology has been around for years, being tweaked and tested. HIMSS has found a way to connect health information and according to new surveys, half or more of doctor’s offices are using three or more of these technologies. There are currently seven technologies total including apps for patient engagement/education, patient portals, patient-generated health data, collected from consumer devices used for remote monitoring, remote patient monitoring using clinical grade medical devices, SMS texting, telehealth-audio visual fee for service, telehealth concierge service. This has become a widely accepted standard practice among hospitals and patients all over the U.S.

HIMSS is currently focusing its attention on health IT topics such as electronic health record systems, HIPAA security and privacy provisions, software usage and technical standards. They also hold an annual conference dedicated to bringing stakeholders together for several days to network and become educated in this type of healthcare.

So as stakeholders become more educated, we should too. We need to be more aware of the who, the what, and the why. Now that you understand the importance of these new advances, maybe then we can all be open minded to learning how to use these technologies to our advantage, and understand the grasp physicians have on their patients on a more personal level. HIMSS has changed the way patients and doctors communicate and understand, it is the wave of the future

Alyssa Pasek

The Internet of Things is Paving the Way for Telemedicine Expansion

internet of things

It seems as if every day new connected devices make their way into consumers’ hands. As the internet of things continues to expand, and its underlying technologies mature, the immediate benefits of data collection on a massive scale have become a reality.

Devices that can collect health data from their users such as the Gear S2, Fitbit and the Apple Watch have enjoyed the media’s spotlight as they begin to save lives with vital signs monitoring. Take for instance the story of Dennis Anselmo, a 62-year-old builder who began feeling uneasy only to discover that his heart rate had skyrocketed to over 210 bpm. With the help of his wearable device, he was able to seek proper medical care. A story, that may not have had a happy ending sans his beloved device.

If the internet of things is already saving lives, what is the hold up?

Devices intended for use in the medical field must undergo FDA approval. This benefits users with superior quality control, unfortunately this also means that the federal government has to process thousands of applications every year. A study conducted by the National Venture Capitalist Assn found that “For low- and moderate-risk devices, the process to navigate the FDA took companies on average three months to two years longer for a green light than it did for a similar approval from European regulators. For higher-risk devices, the discrepancy was greater — the process in the United States took three and a half years, or five times as long as Europe, to grant approval.” This slow and painful process presents serious challenges for consumer OEM’s whose products have yearly life cycles. As the internet of things continues to evolve in accordance with Moore’s law, the FDA must streamline their medical device approval process, or completely overhaul it to make way for the future of medical devices.

If device makers can get consumer devices approved for clinical and medical research purposes in a timely manner, Telemedicine providers such as VirtualERs will be able to gather data in real time from remote patients without the need of expensive equipment. This will not only result in expanded medical care for recipients, but will also improve access for individuals requiring extensive monitoring in rural or inaccessible areas.

Francisco M. Arriaga

Telemedicine Has it’s Perks

telemedicine

As questions about Telemedicine arise, companies and researchers are coming to the rescue with answers. Insurance companies are working diligently to justify costs and reimbursement for Telemedicine patients.

Telemedicine is popping up nationwide and people are starting to reap it’s many benefits. Telemedicine is a hot topic in healthcare, with consumers more willing than ever to see a doctor remotely. “In a national study of over 2,000 consumers, 64% said they would be willing to have a telehealth visit with their doctor via video.” With this knowledge in order to provide more convenient health care options to members, Blue Cross Blue Shield is starting to reimburse some Telemedicine services across the country.

Beginning in December, Blue Cross Blue Shield hopes it will provide more robust treatment options to the rural areas. Many of these services will include, but are not limited to outpatient cardiology, behavioral health, dermatology, infectious diseases and neurology. Many national plans embrace this healthcare innovation and have been steadily increasing coverage through partnerships with telemedicine services companies. This is great news for providers according to Telehealth Index, “as it suggests that over time telemedicine will gain equality footing with in-person consultations across the board. Beyond these laws, the high potential for cost savings in the commercial sector”.

Clinics that have struggled with the reimbursement process for telemedicine services, which has resulted in several unpaid claims, can now bring their much needed services to insured individuals. Nonetheless, reimbursement through private insurance companies is the least confusing and the most promising. With knowledge and experience Telemedicine continues to grow in size and popularity. As insurance companies begin to understand it’s value, American’s across the country will benefit from expanded access to quality medical care.

Alyssa Pasek

Time is Money

time is money

We have all heard the pros and cons of Telemedicine and how it benefits its patients, but we haven’t really heard how it benefits its physicians, and how it is time and money efficient.

The Vermont Veterans Affairs’ use of telemedicine to treat its patients resulted in a large savings for their physicians. Many studies have been conducted, and I am sure we can all understand that time is money, and this facility is saving both. They have found that telemedicine resulted in an average savings of 145 miles and 142 minutes per visit, and as volume in services grew, payment reductions were noticed. Annual travel savings had increased to $63,804, or about 3.5 percent of the total travel pay for that year. An average travel payment savings of $18,555 was saved per year between 2005 and 2013, so I am sure you can see a very positive trend here. Those studying this trend have also determined that Veterans suffering from depression or other health related issues benefitted from Telemedicine visits just as much as face to face visits, and the Telemedicine visits were more convenient due to mobility issues, and fear of social stigma.

We are now realizing that the people we pay to save lives and take care of ourselves as well as our children are now effectively being able to use their time to help others with limited access to healthcare. This is a huge step in the medical industry for its physicians and its patients, and more savings are to come.

Medicine in the On Demand Economy

telehealth

Thanks to the proliferation of on demand services, countless hours waiting for a show to air on television almost seem like a thing of the past. On Demand services such as Netflix and Hulu have transformed the way in which we consume media. So called cord cutters (individuals who discontinue cable TV service) once considered to be a niche, have continued to grow in numbers. And with the debut of HBO Now, consumers have suddenly gained access to real time streaming completely independent of a cable subscription. This trend continues to grow as content distributors seek to expand their audience and cater to the next generations’ preferences.

Mobile devices have given consumers more options for public transport, home delivery services and even apps that can file taxes within 15 minutes. The question remains… Where is the Dr. App? And why am I waiting days for an appointment?

Consumers’ frustration with the healthcare system in the US are very reasonable. Wait times at hospitals can be very long. In addition, costs continue to rise and insurance companies have begun to limit the number of in-network physicians associated with their plans more aggressively. Fortunately, telemedicine has the answers for a lot of these headaches.

Using a Telemedicine product such as Virtual ERs means reduced wait times to see PCPs, fewer unnecessary office and ER visits.  But most importantly, patients can take advantage of the most competitive pricing in the industry. By adapting to our patients we make medicine work for them, on any device of their choosing, while using the communication tools and software they already love.

telemedicine on demand

As these technologies become the norm, and as ISP’s (internet service providers) expand bandwidth capacity around the globe; telemedicine adoption is positioned to explode in the coming years. And maybe, just maybe, future generations can continue to cut cords, skip lines and receive fast, affordable and high quality healthcare.

Francisco M. Arriaga