Why More States Should Encourage Telemedicine in Schools

For some of the same reasons telemedicine is being welcomed into hospitals, prisons or private practices, we are finding that it’s also gaining popularity with schools. Moving past those general reasons why, here’s what makes telemedicine in schools particularly special:

resized_250499-telemedicine03_18-22228_t635Image from ArkansasOnline: Rural Arkansas schools to go telemedicine route

 

It keeps kids on campus and in classrooms!

Kids get scrapes, sniffles and sneezes as surely as the sun rises every day and while many schools have an onsite nurse, only some are permitted to independently administer medication. The difference in permission depends on licensure and state certification which Registered Nurses (RN) are given and Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs) are not. This important detail factors into why Telemedicine in school matters.

(Quick difference between the two types of nurses)
RN: 2-4 year college degree and exam in the state they work. Allowed to perform various medical activities and make decisions about how and when to treat injuries or illnesses.
LPN: High school diploma, nursing program and exam for a license. Their actions must be supervised by an RN or doctor.

According to Deb Group that specializes in occupational skin care and hand hygiene, there are 164 million lost school days per year from students in K-12. Missing school puts students at a disadvantage. Each day that a student misses school means 7.5 hours of catch up in addition to the hours they already have. It’s burdensome and overwhelming, and we haven’t even considered that the day they missed was a test prep day.

So let’s consider the case of an asthmatic child enrolled in a school with LP nurses. The child is wheezing and gasping for air and seeks the nurse for help. The LPN recognizes this as an asthma attack and has access to asthma medication, however laws are preventing the LPN from administering them. The child at this point can be in desperate need with the remedy readily available, but only a doctor or RN is permitted to provide medication.

In this time sensitive situation the LPN is only authorized to call an ambulance and/or the legal guardian and wait. By the time they finally arrive, the condition may have worsened causing the student to lose the rest of the day and maybe another for recovery.

How having Telemedicine helps

If the school had implemented telemedicine, the LPN could have contacted an offsite doctor or RN to show them the child and ask about the appropriate steps to take. Seeing the child, the doctor or RN would then be able to make a diagnosis and authorize the LPN to act on their behalf (while they supervise) and treat the child in-need right then. Telemedicine is not just beneficial to helping kids with asthma. A similar scenario could be played out if it were a stomachache, headache, earache, fever, strep throat – you name it.

This is not to say that secure video conferencing can end all mid-day visits to the family doctor’s office. Instead this should be seen as a frontline solution that can help treat kids right away – at school, and back in classrooms so they don’t fall behind.

Here are the states that already authorize Medicaid reimbursement for telemedicine services in schools. Does Medicaid offer reimbursements for telemedicine in your state?sln_jan4_graph

The Telehealth Resource You Need

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Image from Telehealth Resource Centers

If you’ve been looking for information on Telehealth (what it’s about, reimbursement details, legal information, implementation strategies, etc.) Telehealth Resource Centers can help. TRC is a great resource because it stays up to date and addresses several fundamental questions that arise with this new technology. Examples include:

  • “What is the recommended process for introducing Telemedicine at a remote site?”
  • “How should the local community be informed of available Telemedicine services?”
  • “How do I know if a pilot test has been successful?”
  • “What needs to be included in a protocol for a live, interactive session?”

And these are just a few of many questions that they provide solutions on. As you know, different states can have varying laws; TRC covers that too. To find your own Telehealth Resource Center check here.

They also go above and beyond by conducting free webinars and posting the slides / recordings in case you missed it. It is really an excellent resource on all things Telehealth.

Decoding HIPAA’s Security Rule

man_looking_at_stack_of_papersPhoto by IBM Archives

In an earlier article we wanted to know the simple differences between the HIPAA Privacy Rule and the HIPAA Security Rule. (Check it out here if you haven’t seen it yet).

It’s a simple distinction, but what’s not simple is what’s actually in the Security Rule. So if you want to know the important facts of HIPAA’s Security Rule without going crosseyed over their documentation, give this summary a read.

Quick recap: The Security Rule was established to ensure that all Covered Entities have implemented safeguards to protect the confidentiality of ePHI while maintaining its integrity and availability to authorized individuals. This is done through three general safeguards.

We’ve summarized each of those safeguards for you here:

Technical

Physical

Administrative

The 9 Standards for HIPAA’s Administrative Safeguards

HIPAA’s definition on Administrative Safeguards: “Administrative actions, and policies and procedures, to manage the selection, development, implementation, and maintenance of security measures to protect electronic protected health information and to manage the conduct of the covered entity’s workforce in relation to the protection of that information.” HHS.gov Continue reading “The 9 Standards for HIPAA’s Administrative Safeguards” »

The First Major Mental Health Legislation in Nearly a Decade – Ready to be Signed by President Obama


Talks about how to improve mental health have long been swept under the rug and kept there, however earlier this year the House of Representatives changed that by introducing the 21st Century Cures Act. The bill emphasizes a parity between mental and physical health and has included grants to increase the number of existing mental health practitioners. Continue reading “The First Major Mental Health Legislation in Nearly a Decade – Ready to be Signed by President Obama” »

Medicare’s Latest Reason to Not Reimburse You

readmissions-article

Beginning October 1, 2012, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) entered a program which required them to reduce payments to Inpatient Prospective Payment System (IPPS) hospitals with excessive readmissions. The goal was to promote lasting care for patients before sending them home and to end the “revolving door” of readmissions. A very honorable goal, but maybe not the only one. Continue reading “Medicare’s Latest Reason to Not Reimburse You” »

The First Standalone Telehealth Bill, Spearheaded by Bipartisan Teamwork

house-floor-800x400In the coming days the Senate will be voting on S.2873, or more commonly known as the ECHO (“Expanding Capacity for Health Outcomes”) Act sponsored by Sen. Orrin Hatch [R-UT] and Sen. Brian Schatz [D-HI]. If passed, this bill would require HHS (Health and Human Services) and HRSA (Health Resources and Services Administration) to study technology-enabled collaborative learning and capacity building models. In other words, they have to study the uses and capabilities of Telehealth technologies and determine its ability to improve patient care and provider education.

Why is this important? Continue reading “The First Standalone Telehealth Bill, Spearheaded by Bipartisan Teamwork” »

Donald Trump Just Got Elected President. What Does This Mean for Telehealth?

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There’s a lot of uncertainty going around about what the results of this election mean for the nation; healthcare being a major focus. While it’s difficult to determine what will happen with healthcare overall, you can be assured that Telehealth will always be a growing and relevant part of our lives.

Continue reading “Donald Trump Just Got Elected President. What Does This Mean for Telehealth?” »

Were you considering using WebRTC? Here’s why you shouldn’t.

Waiting for WebRTC, in the style of Waiting for Godot

WebRTC vs. Native apps; The former just isn’t ready.
WebRTC is built on a great and ambitious concept: browser-based, Real-Time Communications (RTC) that is free for any developer to implement. Google released WebRTC as an open source project in 2011 and in the years since, it has attracted contributors and private businesses that have developed on that foundation. Yet five years later, it’s still often referred to as being “in its infancy”, and has yet to be fully supported across all major browsers. Check it out here: Continue reading “Were you considering using WebRTC? Here’s why you shouldn’t.” »

The 4 Standards for HIPAA’s Physical Safeguards

HIPAA’s definition on Physical Safeguards: “Administrative actions, and policies and procedures, to manage the selection, development, implementation, and maintenance of security measures to protect electronic protected health information and to manage the conduct of the covered entity’s workforce in relation to the protection of that information.” HHS.gov

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