Telehealth is a way of delivering medical and educational services via virtual technology. With recent advents in technology, along with the increased usage of internet connected mobile devices, Telehealth has become an effective way to enhance the delivery of health and educational services to patients around the world.
In particular, Telemedicine is the application of technology used to provide direct medical care to a patient. The goal of Telemedicine is to improve a patient’s health by allowing communication between the patient and the physician despite physical distance.
In other words, neither of them would have to travel on-site to see each other and effectively communicate.
Using video communication is live, interactive and facilitated by everyday technology that you most likely already have. Smart phones, tablets and laptops often have built-in audio and video equipment that work perfectly for a clear face-to-face video call. As the use of technologies like these increase, telemedicine is becoming a cost-effective alternative to in person doctor’s appointments.
FIVE key benefits:
A broader network for all: physicians and other practitioners using Telemedicine are granted the freedom to practice anytime anywhere. This opens up their practice to patients far and wide, and in turn, patients have a larger network of providers to choose from.
Eliminates distance as an issue: Instead of making a 5 hour drive to see a specialist, the patient can easily access them through a HIPAA compliant, video request. Maintaining regular face-to-face contact is fundamental in a medical context, especially during the first meeting.
Combats provider shortages: There’s no question that patients in rural areas travel further to see a doctor; some have to drive hours to reach their nearest clinic. Not only this, but their medical destination may not even have the specialist they need to see. Using a secure video platform, patients can meet with specialists in their state without physically being there. This is an immense benefit as it can be done in the privacy and comfort of one’s own home.
High quality of care: A report by the American Journal of Critical Care from 2016 stated that the majority of the nurses surveyed believe Telemedicine improves their own job performance. In addition, it’s easier for a patient to manage chronic diseases when they can quickly video chat with a doctor, instead of both parties needing to travel to a certain location at a scheduled time. Mental health care in particular can benefit, since many mental health diagnoses can be made by simply talking to the patient, and no physical examination is necessary. Patients can be monitored daily without having to stay in inpatient care. Studies show that both doctors and patients see greater outcomes in satisfaction when telemedicine is used.
Greater patient engagement and satisfaction: In today’s world, patients want the convenience of Telemedicine. Scheduling appointments at the office, getting to them on time and remembering the doctors’ orders can be onerous. Telemedicine eliminates these challenges by creating an on-demand or easy scheduling solution that works for both patients and doctors.
On its own or when paired with more traditional healthcare, Telemedicine helps patients access quality, convenient care. As the industry continues to grow, doctors who offer a Telemedicine option are likely to see an increase in patient satisfaction, and an overall growth in their practice. If you’re interested in exploring Telemedicine as an option for your practice, contact us.…Read More
Telecommunication tactics are transforming our healthcare platforms. More specifically, using HIPAA compliant videoconferencing to create virtual clinics has majorly opened up the way healthcare is delivered. It does so by creating one centralized, easy to access platform which can integrate with existing EHRs to store patients’ electronic health information. One specific area: Remote patient monitoring (RPM) has improved patient outcomes by creating new opportunities to assess important health parameters, such as vital signs and blood sugars, from outside the hospital setting. Integrating Telemedicine into current institutional models helps the provider keep track of their patient’s progress, and address any alarming signs without having them readmitted.
This is important when considering the wellbeing of the patient and the large readmission penalty that should happen if too many occur. Instead, a quick follow up can be made over video to make sure the patient does not have a relapse in recovery.
The Virtual Exam Room
RPM, or using a mobile device at home to take routine tests to send through a secure database for review by your doctor, is useful for all members of the healthcare team, including patients. Imagine the immediate impact and long-term effect using a glucometer at home, with the added benefit of uploading and sending the results to your physician daily. Taking this concept a step further, picture visiting your physician in a Virtual Exam Room (VER), instead of returning to the hospital after uploading your results. For Internists and Geriatric Specialists this is helpful when closely monitoring glucose levels in their endocrine fragile patients, especially when caring for those who have recently received post-acute care.
Expanding telehealth to skilled nursing facilities and home health instantly connects providers to patients, reducing fragmented care, a frustration to both clinicians and patients.
- Telehealth offers to extend support for patients receiving home health care.
- Digital connectivity provides an instant continual flow of information between providers and patients, reducing frustration among all team members, especially patients and their family members.
- Research shows telehealth strategies reduce hospital re-admission rates and improve patient outcomes.
- Emergency rooms are less overwhelmed with revolving door re-admissions from post-acute care facilities.
- RPM and VERs have shown to simplify chronic illness management, improving patient care.
Improving Quality of Care
Telehealth isn’t new to medicine and it has been proven to increase patient access in rural areas. Specifically, telecommunication systems have helped physicians deliver behavioral and rehabilitative services when treating patients recovering from substance abuse. Though the two are commonly associated together, (behavioral medicine and telehealth), other medical practices, such as neurology, also benefit from using Telemedicine in their practice models.
Some rural healthcare facilities lack the resources to provide comprehensive stroke care to patients who are possibly experiencing a transient ischemic attack or an acute infarct. It’s common practice for a stroke specialist or neurologist from an accredited stroke hospital to carry a tablet, facilitating communication between institutions. Outside providers can immediately connect with these specialists when they receive patients with signs and symptoms of an acute stroke in their facility, improving immediate diagnosis and treatment. In these scenarios, Telehealth assists with immediate communication between providers, sometimes even with the transfer of a patient to a higher level of care, ensuring quality outcomes.
How Telehealth Impacts Patients
Patients can virtually connect with their physician to ask questions and express concerns, instead of returning to the hospital by using non-expendable resources, such as an ambulance, urgent care or the emergency room. At times, it’s difficult for your physician to confidently evaluate your signs and symptoms over the telephone. So, you can imagine why doctors often express to their patients, “Just return to the hospital.” But with Telemedicine, patients can easily connect with their healthcare practitioner through a HIPAA-compliant secure video platform, experiencing a live virtual exam from the comfort and privacy of their home. Healthcare team members can view and evaluate patient’s vital signs and radiographic images, making important diagnostic decisions, affecting the quality of care patients receive.
Some hospitals have begun integrating Telehealth into current infrastructures, reporting immediate results, such as improved communication, easier access of patient data, and most importantly–reduced hospital re-admission rates. Simply put: emergency rooms become less crowded and patients receive better follow-up care, resulting in both improved patient outcomes and lower readmission rates.
The bad news is in: opioids are killing twice as many people each year in the United States than firearm and motor vehicle-related deaths combined. The numbers are truly staggering and they are climbing each year. In the past 20 years, over 300,000 people have died from opioids in the United States. Unfortunately, while the government has made strong public statements towards the issue of drug addiction, it is failing to reach the next step in finding a solution. Many critics agree that this is due to the lack of funding.
“Trump won’t direct any new federal money to the opioid crisis. There’s just $57,000 left” to combat the opioid issue.
With the startling number of deaths, the lack of specialty clinicians available and the overwhelming majority of opioid deaths occurring in rural areas, there is one piece of technology that has helped curb the problem and that is Telehealth.
Too often, rural communities do not have the funds to allocate towards substance abuse services and the negative impacts are felt throughout. When people are struggling with addiction and have nowhere to go to treat their problem, they often feel like they’re left with little choice but to continue their addictive lifestyle. Drug addiction is a disease and those afflicted need the support of their community and medical professionals to overcome it.
Unfortunately, there’s a distinct lack of opioid specialists in rural areas. Without access to specialists, their treatment options are limited and jeopardizes their chances of recovery. For example: the patient can find the support of a relatively nearby provider who may not be compatible.. or travel a long distance and take a chance on a professional they’ve never met face-to-face before. Neither of these are optimal but unfortunately, rural areas simply do not have enough healthcare professionals available per capita to support the need.
Telemedicine bridges this gap and gives patients a wider breadth of face-to-face clinicians, including specialists, to choose from. For the specialists, Telemedicine ostensibly gives them a larger pool of patients to work with and encourages them to spread the help they can offer to otherwise inaccessible patients.
How Telemedicine Can Combat the Opioid Crisis in Rural Areas
Thanks to the advent of HIPAA-compliant video services provided in Telemedicine, rural patients can now access the medical help they need without having to leave their communities. Opioid-addicted patients can now reach clinicians and specialists either through their local hospital or from their own homes using mobile Telemedicine apps and services.
The ability to interact with medical professionals who do not live in their area is a great advancement to the delivery of care for opioid patients in rural areas. It removes the travel constraints when needing to speak with a healthcare professional, but retains the importance of a face-to-face visit. Instead of having to travel a long distance and spend the night where the clinician is located, the patients can easily access the care they need over video consultations. Patients can also expect the same emphasis on patient confidentiality through HIPAA compliant Telemedicine as they would an in-person visit.
While, generally, rural patients have difficulty making appointments with an opioid specialist, Telemedicine services have made it possible for them to effectively seek the care they need. It’s impossible to stereotype an opioid-addicted person, but it is easy to suggest that people who are facing extreme problems with opioids are likely in no shape to travel a long-distance to get the services they need. Telemedicine puts help within arm’s reach.
If you’re interested in learning more about how you can provide Telemedicine services positively impact your business and the lives of people suffering from addiction, please contact us today. Our HIPAA-compliant video service has the most streamlined workflow to help you connect securely and easily with patients across the globe.…Read More
Video conferencing technologies are rapidly gaining traction in the United States as a way to improve access to medical care and reduce rising healthcare costs. Integration of innovative technological tactics, such as Telemedicine and remote patient monitors is already underway as providers and politicians are hopeful this technology will steer healthcare reform in a direction that benefits patients and stakeholders alike.
The American Telemedicine Association describes Telemedicine as the remote delivery of clinical services by using telecommunication technology. An example of this would be when you visit your physician online through a secure HIPAA-compliant video connection. Telehealth has shown to be a safe, convenient and cost-effective method to deliver healthcare, benefiting both providers and patients in the following areas:
- Expands patients’ access to care
- Improves patient satisfaction
- Reduces rising healthcare costs
Medical specialties such as those in the Behavioral Health field have already seen success with integrating Telehealth into their practice models. The American Psychiatric Association (APA) began researching Telepsychiatry in the 1990s and formed a Committee in 2015 dedicated to helping other institutions or physicians in private practice adopt Telehealth into their therapeutic approach.
Peering through the screen, Telehealth has affected medicine management and behavioral health rehabilitation, (whether upstream or downstream), and improved patient care for over 15 years. Ideally, expanding Telehealth technologies to specialties like home health and Long Term Care could drive economic stability and push political health reform policies in similar directions.
It appears legislation agrees. In 2016, Congress passed the 21st Century Cures Act which boosted funding for more research, specifically to help families dealing with mental health issues and substance abuse. The act also allocates funds for community mental health resources that is dedicated to treating underserved areas.
Continuing the push for Telehealth, Congress passed the Medicare Telehealth Parity Act this year as a way to improve access to Telehealth coverage under Medicare. The act amends a title of the Social Security act and occurs incrementally, broadening Telehealth services to include more healthcare professionals who are able to bill for these services.
Phased in Expansion:
- Certify Additional Healthcare Providers~ This includes Physicians, Nurse Practitioners, Physician Assistants, Nurse-midwives, Clinical Nurse Specialists, Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists, Clinical Psychologists, Clinical Social Workers, and Registered Dietician or Nutrition Professionals.
- Additional Operating Sites~ Expand services to more remote locations.
- Payment Methods~ CMS is to develop and implement new payment methods for Telehealth services.
Telehealth technology offers a key puzzle piece to population wellness and management. Telemedicine is attractive to employers and third-party payers alike because it’s far more cost-effective to keep patients healthy and out of the hospital. When a hospital invests in the well-being of their community, you see the value mirrored in the health of the population your institution treats. Simply put: easier access to healthcare providers online, influences community health.
- Improves the flow of communication between patient and provider
- Replaces time consuming in-patient visits with virtual visits (results in less “no-shows”)
- Reduces trips to the ER/hospital/clinic and possible readmissions
- Allows for the re-appropriation of current and additional resources
- Reduce fragmented care
Telehealth offers an extension of support for patients receiving behavioral health, home health care and countless others. With digital connectivity, there is an instant and continual flow of information that leads to improved communication and care between providers and patients.
If you’re a provider looking to expand your practice reach, SecureVideo offers a HIPAA-compliant videoconferencing system that easily integrates with a provider’s existing workflow environment. With this powerful tool, we’re able to help medical professionals transform the delivery of healthcare!…Read More