In the past, doctors made regular house calls to provide medical assistance to patients who were homebound because of severe illnesses. This convenience is rarely heard of these days. The need, however, does still exist. In fact, for the more than 100 million Americans suffering from chronic disease, going to an office to receive medical treatment can be quite an ordeal.
Now, thanks to modern technology, the internet, and telehealth, your patients no longer have to endure the difficulties that come with getting health care. They can skip the extra time required to dress, only to have to undress again at the office, the long and sometimes uncomfortable drive to the doctor’s office, and the slow and painful maneuvering required to get in and out of a vehicle.
With telehealth, your patients suffering from chronic disease can get the medical treatment they need right in the convenience of their own homes. But there are other ways telehealth can benefit your patients, not just those suffering from chronic disease, but all patients.
Sensitive Treatments: The 28th annual European Association of Urology Congress presented research showing that “75% of men with ED do not seek treatment.” While there are a number of reasons for this, one of the main reasons is the embarrassment that men have when that particular part of the body isn’t working as it should. This sense of embarrassment isn’t limited to erectile dysfunction. In fact, there are many other diagnoses that go untreated because of embarrassment. Telehealth takes away that embarrassment by allowing your patients to seek treatment in the privacy of their homes where they are most comfortable.
Rare Conditions: One major benefit of telehealth is that it allows patients in rural areas the convenience of seeking medical treatment in their own homes without having to travel long distances. However, there are cases in which people who have easy access to doctors may need to seek treatment from a specialist not found in their area. In those cases, telehealth gives them access to doctors who specialize in rare conditions but are located in other parts of the world.
Second Opinions: To have to see one doctor for a cancer diagnosis is difficult enough, but if a patient wants a second opinion, that process becomes twice as hard. For some people, prior to receiving treatment for a painful surgical procedure with a long recovery time, getting a second or even third opinion is paramount. At the same time, busy schedules and the need for immediate treatment make this extra difficult. Telemedicine makes getting that second opinion from you as easy as going online during a lunch break.
The truth is, telemedicine has many benefits for both your patients and clinical staff including easier patient access, lower costs, time saved and greater patient satisfaction. Furthermore, as technology advances, even more benefits will arise. In fact, home monitoring devices for diabetes, heart conditions and other illnesses that allow doctors to look closer into a patient’s condition are already in use. These devices, when paired with telehealth from your office, give patients the quality medical care that everyone deserves.
If you haven’t considered providing telehealth services to your patients, now’s the time to look into it. Connect with us at SecureVideo today to learn what our services can do for your medical practice.…Read More
The eNLC Breaks Down Licensure Barriers for Telehealth Nurses
For the past eighteen years, the Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC) has predominantly operated out of twenty-five states. The NLC was a big success for nursing eighteen years ago because it effectively allowed nurses to maintain their license from the state where they were residing, while working in another state without getting an additional nursing license. This progressive leap forward helped nurses find work more easily, while also addressing the nursing shortage in a collaborative manner—nurses could then practice in other participating states.
Telehealth however is something new. The NLC didn’t account for technology playing such a key role in the actual delivery of healthcare. So while nurses were allowed to practice across state lines, they weren’t able to do it using Telehealth until now.
Using Telehealth Transforms Healthcare Delivery
Since the NLC was initially launched there have been great strides in the advancement of technology, telecommunications, a more mobile nursing force and a growing patient population. All of these factors have contributed a need to further break down state barriers to practice.
Telehealth is a result of that need and is transforming healthcare by extending care outside of hospital doors and into people’s homes, no matter the distance. Even though we have Telehealth technology, nurses and other medical professionals are stopped by state laws that prevent them from practicing without applying for a license in that state. The eNLC however is a contract between states that have all set the same standard.
If you can maintain a license in your home state, you can practice in a fellow participating state.
This removes licensure barriers for more than 4 million telehealth nurses!
A Call to Push the Nurse Licensure Compact Forward
The NLC provides nurses the freedom to cross state lines and helps fill the gaps in patient care; it’s a solution and a good one. Sadly, after the last eighteen years, progress has stalled. A little better than half of the country belongs to the NLC and that’s remarkable, but to continue advancing and providing seamless patient care to the ever growing population, all fifty states need to join.
The National Council of State Boards of Nursing Draft the Enhanced Nurse Licensure Compact
In 2015, The National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) and the executive directors from each state board gathered to discuss possible solutions to expand multi-state licensure to include all states. Board members passionately reviewed existing legislative challenges and barriers with regards to every state joining in the NLC. Members were able to reach an agreement and draft a solution now known as the enhanced Nurse Licensure Compact (eNLC).
The Enhanced Nurse Licensure Compact Has 11 New Licensure Requirements
For the most part, the eNLC and the NLC mirror one another in their mission to reduce regulatory requirements and provide solutions to practicing across state lines. In order to satisfy multi-state tastes, a few changes were adopted to the original NLC. New nurses (those who obtained a license after July 20, 2017) must meet these 11 requirements before qualifying for a multi-state license:
- Proof of identity~ The nurse must possess a valid social security number.
- School & education~ The nurse must graduate from a board-approved school of nursing.
- Board examination~ The nurse must pass the National Council Licensure Exam (NCLEX).
- Home state~ The nurse must meet their home states’ nursing licensure requirements.
- English proficiency~ If the nurse is a foreign graduate, the nurse must pass an English proficiency exam.
- Disciplinary action~ The nurse must possess a license that is currently not under disciplinary action.
- Disciplinary program ~ The nurse cannot be currently enrolled in an alternative-to-discipline program.
- If they are in an alternative to discipline program, they are required to self-disclose this information.
- Criminal record~ The nurse cannot have a felony record.
- Additionally, the nurse must not have a misdemeanor related to their nursing practice on their record.
- Background check~ The nurse must be willing to submit to a federal criminal background check.
Which States Are Part of eNLC?
Twenty nine states have enacted eNLC legislation and implemented it this year (January 19, 2018), meaning nurses are now able to practice in any participating state. Nurses with a NLC license who are currently working in a eNLC member state have nothing to worry about regarding this transition; they are grandfathered in and protected by legislation. The following are eNLC states:
|New Hampshire||New Mexico||North Carolina|
|North Dakota||Oklahoma||South Carolina|
Telehealth breaks through geographical boundaries and helps providers deliver high-quality healthcare and especially so in underserved areas. With this licensure compact, twenty-nine states made the practical decision to come up with a singular set of requirements that works for them all. Because of this decision, providers have the freedom to relocate while maintaining their livelihood and they can use Telehealth to consult virtually to a broader patient base. The flexibility on them will greatly address the shortage of nurses in an area and patients in need will benefit.Read More
Advancements in technology and the growth of the internet have led to dramatic changes in daily life. It has impacted how we communicate, how we travel, how we shop and how we learn. The field of healthcare is no exception. Technology has improved how medical professionals access and share information and provide care to patients. Telehealth is a dynamic field that has the potential to dramatically change the face of healthcare.
Origins and Use
NASA popularized long distance medical care in the 1960s when astronauts went into space. They collected data remotely about the health of its astronauts and doctors assessed this information to gauge their health while they were in space. Ask-A-Nurse services began, allowing patients to call in and get advice. Today more healthcare providers are exploring the use of online patient portals which can help people connect with professionals if they are living in remote places. Telehealth services can also help save time and money.
Potential to Improve Care Through Data Management and Centralization
At this point, patient medical history can be challenging to share between different medical institutions and specialists. When a patient has to change doctors, the physician may not receive complete records or may have to run redundant tests because the existing patient information is insufficient. A complete patient profile charting a person’s health issues, diagnoses, treatments prescribed, and other information can be helpful to both patient and physician. It can help improve the level of treatment a patient receives if a new physician receives a complete picture of a person’s health journey. Technology has allowed for the development of a personalized health record system app which allows an individual to view their own medical data. This can be communicated with other healthcare professionals during an emergency which can help to save lives.
Telehealth has great potential to make a difference in the delivery of care, and although the technology exists, it might be a while before bureaucracy catches up.
Online Appointments via Video Conferencing
Online appointments can help patients easily interact with healthcare providers which can be critical for people who live in rural locations and for those who do not have access to transportation. Online appointments are also attractive for those who have busy schedules and who are not able to get into the doctor’s office because of their jobs. According to a study completed in August 2015, the average time for an appointment was 121 minutes with only 20 minutes spent in the presence of the doctor. The amount of time that patients are waiting at the doctor’s office is a burden for them and their employers and has been consistently increasing. Fortunately, the study also found that online appointments save this time and result in a more cost effective appointment for everyone. A patient shouldn’t spend needless hours in a waiting room to receive care. Scheduling an online appointment would allow them to spend the time how they see fit.
Making a Difference
In addition to sharing information and saving time, Telehealth can also help patients by providing a platform for them to manage their routine health and prevent serious cases from occurring. They can view or request results online through their patient portal and even securely message their provider with questions. The correspondence they’re able to make online and the answers they receive may even remove the need to schedule yet another appointment.
Telehealth is growing more popular and healthcare professionals, insurance companies and state governments are noticing. Thirty-eight states and the District of Columbia currently have a law that governs private payer Telehealth reimbursement and that number is expected to increase through growing demand. To learn more about telehealth and how we can help with HIPAA-Compliant Videoconferencing, contact us today.…Read More
Steady wins the race applies to telehealth’s entry into the mainstream of healthcare. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) reports that 61% of the nation’s healthcare institutions are employing some sort of telemedicine service, and more and more states are working to come up with viable guidelines for enacting telehealth laws and reimbursement policies. As of 2017, 48 of our 50 states had come up with substantive changes to how telehealth is delivered to those living in remote areas, the exceptions being Massachusetts and Connecticut.
In March, 2018, Iowa became the latest state to require insurers to treat telehealth services the same as those rendered in person, joining Arkansas, Maine, Indiana, Hawaii and Louisiana who in 2017 allowed physician/patient evaluations and relationships to be carried out via real time audio and visual telehealth technologies. Other examples of progressive state changes to Telehealth include:
- New Jersey’s newly enacted telehealth law that uses the loose definition,”healthcare provider,” allowing for a wider range of healthcare modalities, thus paving the way for medical professionals other than physicians.
- West Virginia’s recent bill that expands access to behavioral medications after a telehealth appointment.
- New York’s new telepsychiatry-specific law clarifying which mental health services can be delivered through telemedicine.
Speaking of mental health, Epstein Becker & Green (a national law firm that focuses on healthcare and life sciences) reported in the appendix of their 50 State Survey of Telemental/Telebehavioral Health, that 31 states, plus the District of Columbia, have enacted private payment laws addressing issues such as how physician/patient relationships are established and how remote prescribing is carried out.
Another catalyst for expanded remote care came on the scene in April 2017 when the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact (“Compact”) went into effect. This milestone was an agreement between 24 states and one territory. Thirty one medical and osteopathic boards in those states created an expedited process for their licensed physicians to practice in multiple compact member states. The idea behind this agreement was to encourage states to institute regulatory frameworks that will increase interstate delivery of telehealth services and, in the process, increase payer coverage to states that currently do not have access to telemedicine.
But perhaps the most concrete and immediate promise for telehealth reimbursement to providers comes from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid. The agency has been widely criticized for its restrictive guidelines on reimbursing providers for telehealth services delivered in rural areas, including limiting the type of authorized services and where they can be delivered. However, in a May 2018 press release CMS unveiled their new rural healthcare strategy. The plan focuses on how to best serve the 60 million plus Americans living in rural communities, while avoiding “unintended consequences of policy and program implementation.” Having come to the conclusion that advancing and modernizing telemedicine is the best way to accomplish this goal, they will be reducing “some of the barriers to telehealth such as reimbursement, cross-state licensure issues, and the administrative and financial burden to implement telemedicine.”
As in all areas, consumer demand will be the driving force toward government regulation, and rightly so. This demand has already resulted in a number of states enacting expanded or new parity laws requiring insurers to cover telehealth visits in increasing types of settings. Payers in states without parity laws are finding that they need to keep up on changes in legislation and must prepare for the day when every state mandates reimbursement for telehealth services. Advances such as those mentioned above contribute to the need for building a secure and user friendly platform to facilitate the delivery of telemedicine services and telehealth technologies into health care systems. As a provider of a HIPAA-compliant video platform designed to allow telehealth providers to set up their own secure video conferencing system, we invite you to contact us so you’ll be ready for that day.…Read More