5 Ways Telehealth Benefits Your Practice

In today’s connected world, a majority of healthcare patients prefer easy access to physician services over in-person office visits. Whether a patient needs advice on a child’s fever, wants clarification on medication or presents with a condition that can be assessed and treated remotely, virtual visits offer on-demand care without the loss of time or the cost of most in-office visits. Of course, not all visits with a doctor can be replaced by video meetings. Some diagnoses require an initial hands-on examination, but telehealth visits still add value to these scenarios because progress can be monitored and followed through virtual contact. Offering this convenience in your practice benefits your patients, lowers your office overhead and expands your caseload.

Telehealth offers the capability for providers to quickly and easily schedule patients over video, allow patients to self-schedule, use remote patient monitoring systems and more. The positive effect this has on patient/provider relationships is undeniable. Patients become more engaged in managing their healthcare. With patient benefits such as increased accessibility, and provider benefits like improved efficiency and revenue, telehealth systems enhance any practice.

Accessibility. For many patients, traveling to an office can either be difficult or impossible. Whether a patient lives in a remote location, is homebound or simply cannot take time off from work, telehealth services provide virtual access to to care via your computer, tablet or cell phone. By using virtual visits, children miss less school and patients save travel and missed-work costs. Providers also benefit from increased patient accessibility through reduced no-shows and “on-demand capabilities” to fill in any gaps in appointments.

Improved Patient Commitment. By increasing your accessibility, your patients are encouraged to take an active role in their own health care, especially because it’s so easy and convenient to do so. Patients who might otherwise forego treatment tend to keep virtual appointments, maintain their care schedules more completely and return online for follow ups. With telehealth platform SecureVideo, patients feel confident in its ease of use and look forward to visits. Your patients feel reassured that you are available and committed to help; and they find it easy to reach out to you with questions or concerns.

Quick Quality Care. With telehealth, your rapid virtual response to patients promotes quality patient care. As an American Hospital Association report shows, with telehealth, patients address health issues quickly and receive treatment in minutes – lowering patient stress and anxiety and decreasing hospital admissions.

Finding a Specialist. Finding a specialist is difficult in many areas of the U.S., with rural communities often underserved by many specialties. When patients need specialty care, your telehealth system can connect to your website and provide the array of services your patients need.

Does your practice offer various kinds of therapy? Set up different portals for your patients to enter.
“Marriage and Family Therapists”
“PTSD Therapists”
“Trauma Therapists”
These different portals send a notification to the specific specialists providing the service, making it organized and efficient for your practice.

Provider Cost Benefits. Healthcare providers see cost savings in remote monitoring and analysis services as well as electronic data storage. But a telehealth system also boosts revenue by

  • attracting patients from remote areas
  • allowing one provider or practice to maintain a larger case load through increased efficiencies
  • reducing appointment cancellations
  • providing a source of billable hours during on-call times and unfilled appointment times
  • reducing overhead for physicians who prefer a “work from home” model
  • promoting the expansion of a specialist practice to a wider geographic area.

The telehealth market is growing rapidly, spurred by state laws mandating that health plans cover telehealth services, employers offering the services as an employee benefit and health care organizations implementing virtual programs. With the US leading the way, an anticipated 7 million patients will use telehealth services this year. As a healthcare provider, this is the perfect time to expand your practice by offering telehealth services to your patients – for their benefit and yours.

For more information, contact SecureVideo to see how HIPAA-compliant videoconferencing can improve your practice.

Ditching Traditional Doctor Visits

In a previous article we observed that nearly every medical specialty in healthcare can incorporate Telehealth; we also saw who the driving force is: Millennials.

With over 77 million individuals born between 1982 and 2004, millennials make up nearly 40% of the country’s workforce. Additionally, they are expected to surpass Baby Boomers as the country’s largest living adult generation by next year. Not only do millennials account for almost 25% of the U.S. population, but they are also the first generation to have grown up with the internet, cell phones, and social media all their life. Staying connected, informed and doing so fast and efficiently is expected; this also applies to their health and doctor visits.

For example, booking appointments online allows a person to schedule on their own time (even if it’s 2am), and without the back and forth about what mutual times are available. There’s a freedom to having limited interactions that millennials value and this outlook has significantly influenced how businesses and organizations operate, including in the healthcare industry.

Notable Healthcare and Telemedicine Statistics:

  1. There are 168 million behavioral health visits in the U.S. every year.
  2. Towers Watson calculates $6 billion in annual healthcare savings for U.S. employers.
  3. The Large Employers’ 2018 Health Care Strategy and Plan Design Survey found that virtually all employers (96 percent) will make telehealth services available in states where it is allowed next year.
  4. A 2016 study funded by CVS Health concluded thatbetween 94 and 99% of participants were “very satisfied” with telehealth, and one-third of respondents preferred the telehealth to an in-office visit.
  5. According to the American Telemedicine Association,studies have shown the quality of telemedicine services to be just as good as traditional, in-person consultations.
  6. A 2013 study by Truven Health Analytics concluded that only 29% of ED Visits were “not preventable/not avoidable”. The CDC report shows that the U.S. had nearly 137 million E.R. visits last year.
  7. 28% of millennials do not have a Primary Care Physician (PCP), and another 40% do not have a relationship with their PCP.
  8. Two-thirds of consumers delay seeking care because it costs too much and takes too long. These points are supported by a study found on the American Journal of Managed Care which found that the average time associated with office visits was 121 minutes. “37 minutes of which was travel time and 84 minutes of clinic time” With only 20 minutes of those minutes in the presence of a doctor.
  9. “Some 65 million Americans now live in what’s ‘essentially a primary-care desert’ where the total number of Primary Care Doctors (PCP) can only meet 50% or less of the population’s needs.

Why is this important? Telehealth is built to tackle all of these familiar issues. Reaching underserved patients, providing access to more physicians, focusing on preventative care and delivering the same quality of care are just a few things it’s good for. It’s also good for saving time and money, whether you’re the patient, the provider or the payer. If you’re not already offering secure video services in your practice, you should be.

Contact us to see how we can add to your business or create your free two-week trial here.

3 Telehealth Benefits You May Not Have Considered

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.

Current eNLC States and the Impact on Nurses

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:

ArizonaArkansasColorado
DelawareFloridaGeorgia
IdahoIowaKentucky
MaineMarylandMississippi
MissouriMontanaNebraska
New HampshireNew MexicoNorth Carolina
North DakotaOklahomaSouth Carolina
South DakotaTennesseeTexas
UtahVirginiaWest Virginia
WisconsinWyoming

Striding Forward

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.

The combination of the eNLC and Telehealth is a powerful tool for patients and nurses. If you’re a nurse looking to use Telehealth, contact us or test out our free trial.

Telehealth: A New Dimension to Healthcare

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.

2017 and Telehealth: An Encouraging Year for Expanded State Licensing Laws and Reimbursement Policies

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:

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.

The New Face of Healthcare

Almost one hundred years ago, a multi-talented inventor and writer by the name of Hugo Gernsback predicted a technology that would allow a physician to diagnose a patient using video. Today, that technology is known as Telehealth.

The concept of Telehealth dates as far back as the invention of the telephone with healthcare professionals consulting and advising one another at a distance. References to the use of telecommunication appear as early as 1879 and live video communication as early as 1925, however the face-to-face video portion was just a concept. Now Telehealth has grown and evolved drastically, allowing physicians to provide confidential services to patients around the world with care.

While still in the early stages of implementation, Telehealth promises to revolutionize healthcare worldwide.

Using two-way audiovisual technology, a physician can interact with a patient (or several at once) remotely. Any of the parties can be remote and the connection is instant. It’s reliable, easy to use and goes a long way in preventing late appointments and no-shows.

What areas of healthcare can be used by Telehealth?

The better question is “What sector can’t be used by Telehealth?” The technology has shown to be useful in countless specialties. To name a few:

HospitalsUrgent CareFirst Responders
Behavioral HealthNursing FacilitiesHospice Care
Chronic CareRemote Patient MonitoringDermatology
Provider NetworksResearchTrainings

In addition to being able to see and hear the patient in real time, there are peripheral medical instruments that can be used for further interaction.

Ditching traditional doctor visits

The current push is moving strongly towards Telehealth and it’s being fueled by Millennials, here’s why.

  1. It’s convenient. Smart phones are ubiquitous and nearly no millennials would be caught without one. Being able to meet with your doctor without having to walk, bike or drive over makes all the difference.
  2. Not missing work. Whether work ethic, team dependency, or financial motivations, millennials don’t want to miss work either. Telehealth visits really cut the time down to what’s necessary.
  3. Scheduling is easy. It can be done online with zero fuss and zero wait time. All availability is listed so there’s no back and forth. Oh, and you can add it directly to your calendar afterwards.
  4. See someone right away. Sometimes you need an appointment right away, and with an internet full of online doctors the world is your oyster. And you can read through reviews before meeting with them, just to make sure it’s a good fit.
  5. It’s so efficient. This is probably the biggest motivation. No matter how we choose to spend our time, we can likely all agree that spending it in the waiting room is a waste. Travelling a distance when we don’t have to is a waste, and waste is bad.

All in all, the versatility shown by Telehealth technology in supporting many diverse use cases has made it an incredible and desirable tool. In conjunction with the support of a booming millennial population, Telehealth is taking off as the new face of healthcare.

Telemedicine: A Key Component of the Opioid Crisis Response Act of 2018

On Tuesday, April 24, 2018, the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions (HELP) unanimously passed the Opioid Crisis Response Act of 2018. This bipartisan committee consulted with officials and subject-matter experts from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSHA) as well as mental health experts, state governors and families affected by drug abuse to establish 40 proposals for responding to this health crisis.

A key component of their response involves increasing the utilization of Telemedicine.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, “[an]estimated 2.1 million people in the United States had a substance use disorder related to prescription opioid pain medicines in 2016,” and although effective medications are available to treat this addiction, “fewer than half of private-sector treatment programs offer [these medications], and of patients in those programs who might benefit, only a third actually receive it.

Telemedicine may be key to removing some of the obstacles to making these medications more available.

Ryan Haight Act of 2008

A primary obstacle to the use of Telemedicine in treating opioid addiction is the Ryan Haight Online Pharmacy Consumer Protection Act of 2008. This act was designed to prevent abuses from internet pharmacies that became popular in the 1990’s. According to the legislation, in order to prescribe controlled substances electronically, physicians must conduct an in-person examination of the patient, or the patient must be physically located in a hospital or clinic with a valid DEA registration. The DEA issued regulations that imposed a federal prohibition on form-only online prescribing of opioids and placed limits on the electronic prescription of controlled substances.

Although the legislation provided for a special registration that would have allowed physicians to prescribe controlled substances without meeting these requirements, the DEA failed to make this registry available. The Opioid Crisis Response Act is an attempt to compel the DEA to follow through on this provision.

Opioid Crisis Response Act of 2018

This comprehensive legislation includes forty proposals, attacking the opioid crisis from multiple angles. These provisions would enable the DEA to allow qualified healthcare providers to prescribe controlled substances using Telemedicine, expand the list of qualified providers to include community mental health and addiction treatment centers, and give more freedom for physicians, physician assistants, and nurse practitioners in prescribing medication-assisted therapy to patients who struggle with opioid addiction.

By making it easier for physicians to prescribe controlled-substances to help addicts, these medications will become far more accessible to the people who need them most, and to patients living in under-served rural areas. This legislation will go into effect within one year, following a 60-day comment period allowed by the attorney general.

Other Provisions

Other provisions of the bill include:

  • States will be encouraged to share prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMP) with one another to allow doctors and pharmacies to know if patients have a history of substance abuse.
  • The HHS secretary will issue guidance every year informing providers what kind of information they can share with relatives about opioid-related emergencies and overdoses.

One advocacy organization, Shatterproof, provided the Senate with recommendations. Shatterproof founder and CEO Gary Mendell had this to say: “The Senate HELP Committee today made important progress in the fight against the opioid crisis by advancing this bipartisan legislation. We welcome the provisions to establish Comprehensive Opioid Recovery Centers and improve existing state Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs (PDMPs). As the bill moves to the full Senate, we urge senators to continue to improve upon the bill by including provisions to limit opioid prescriptions for acute pain to three days, require states to meet minimum best practices for PDMPs, and incentivize evidence-based approaches to treating substance use disorders. If passed, these smart, common-sense provisions will start saving lives immediately.”

For more information on Telehealth and how to get started, contact us today.

 

Telemedicine is Revolutionizing Inmate Care Within Texas Prisons

The healthcare industry is evolving fast to keep up with the demands of our growing population. While you may read about the aging Baby Boomer population as health care’s greatest challenge, other issues require similar attention. Dealing with inmate health in state prisons has become just as much of a hurdle.

Telemedicine has already helped many health care agencies be able to communicate better with patients. Now Texas is working with Texas Tech University and the University of Texas Medical Branch to increase inmate access to providers through telemedicine technology. It’s a major development in health care evolution because it saves time, reduces costs, removes transportation as an issue and is incredibly easy to implement.

How the Partnership Between Texas and the Universities Work

There isn’t a better partnership to improve inmate medical health in Texas prisons than the state working directly with universities. The partnership is one likely inspiring other medical institutions to bring improved health care to the masses.

With this practice, Texas now becomes a bold new innovator in telemedicine despite lagging behind on the technology in past years.

Dr. Owen Murray, vice president of offender health services at the University of Texas Medical Branch gives good insight into how telemedicine works with inmates:

“(Telemedicine) has improved access to care, and allowed us to recruit good doctors who might not want to work in prisons, but can now work in an office and meet with offenders remotely.”

The above partnership between the three (The Texas Department of Criminal Justice, UTMB, and Texas Tech University) is a huge step forward in providing comprehensive health services to inmates in Texas prisons.

How Estelle Prison is Making Telemedicine Work

In Huntsville, Estelle Prison was already experiencing trouble on medical costs caring for inmates. Their initiative to work with the state to bring care from the above universities could soon change everything in how they deal with inmate care.

Considering Texas has many prisons, this could finally improve their budgets after experimenting with telemedicine for years. The state was already using primitive forms of the tech as far back as the early 1990s, though the video technology prohibited efficient use.

Now with hi-definition cameras and high-speed internet, the time is right for them and other state prisons to take action. The prison is now using these to conduct Telemedicine visits, connecting remotely housed inmates with medical professionals all around the state by subcontracting prison healthcare to the above reputable universities.

Cutting Costs

The amount of money saved from telemedicine technology in Texas prisons is potentially exponential. This is important for the state because while prisons receive a certain amount of money to spend per prisoner, Texas spends far less on prisoners than the national average. Telemedicine technology is inexpensive and can boost quality greatly with little spend.

For one, using telemedicine allows digital face-to-face interactions with doctors and saves on transportation and high security costs (transferring inmates to a clinic or hospital, or requesting an in-house visit by the provider).

How about the technology? Is the startup cost high?
It’s not. The SecureVideo platform supports a wide range of devices which you likely already have. For example, smart phones and tablets are supported and they already have built-in cameras and microphones. Many laptops have these built-in as well and if your computer doesn’t, you can easily purchase an external webcam and get started right away. No special or proprietary equipment is used.

Setting up the Perfect Behavioral Health Use Case

Thanks to improved telemedicine cameras, doctors can create meaningful connections with patients as if they were in the same room, while also being able to instantly see another patient in an entirely different location. They can work from the comfort of their own offices securely and meet with different prisoners easily and efficiently.

From a cost standpoint, this saves the doctor having to travel great distances to the prisons, something they’d charge extra to do. This also potentially speeds up inmate care through on-demand sessions, which the provider is more likely to provide given that they can video conference from anywhere with an internet connection.

According to Urban.org, the telemedicine process has already saved Texas prisons from $200-$1000 per inmate.

Scheduling Follow-Ups

Setting a time for an inmate to meet with a doctor via telemedicine is extremely simple, and so are follow ups. The quick access to follow-ups lowers any chance of medical relapses or even death in inmates dealing with the most severe medical problems. This is a step forward to ensuring good medical outcomes and healthy patients.

Contact SecureVideo to learn about our HIPAA-compliant video platform and see how easy it is to securely integrate into your system.

Understanding Telemedicine’s History to Employ its Future

Around 70 years ago, Telemedicine made its debut to reach patients in otherwise fairly inaccessible regions where the patients lived. In fact, the first concept for telemedicine was prototyped in the early 20th century in what was known as the ‘Teledactyl,’ a machine that offered a video picture of a patient while a doctor remotely controlled robotic arms to care for the patient. However, while the idea never made it past the conceptual stage, it did closely predict what would become Telemedicine.

What birthed from a necessity to gain access to healthcare for people who would otherwise not be able to receive it, has since grown into the forefront of medical technology and is a powerhouse of integrated medical service delivery. Essentially, Telemedicine is the ‘Teledactyl’s’ modern cousin: a virtual consultation between a doctor and a patient.

The 1950’s brought the first real introduction of Telemedicine as hospitals experimented with the idea of sharing information remotely. They eventually sought to use this application in group therapy sessions in 1964 between the University of Nebraska and Norfolk State Hospital (a distance of 112 miles). In addition to this specialty, they also used video communications to provide speech therapy, neuro exams, psychiatric cases, consultations, research seminars and education and training (National Center for Biotechnology Information)

From Humble Beginnings to Urban Dreams

Once medical personnel began to see the benefits of reaching rural patients remotely, they immediately imagined Telemedicine’s potential in cities as well. The ability to reach patients during times of healthcare shortages and the possibility to treat patients undergoing medical emergencies without delay became clear: This technology offers the opportunity to save lives.

With these opportunities came funding for even more growth: the U.S. Government began offering finances to further telemedicine’s development, NASA got on board with the idea to watch over their astronauts health while away, and with the ever-expanding knowledge and success of Telemedicine, universities, hospitals, and private research groups all began exploring the technology.

Telemedicine’s Accessibility Today

As prices on Telemedicine technology continue to drop and advances in the technology surface, people across the world are seeing the benefits. As video technologies grow and expand like Facebook Video, Skype and Google Hangouts, the number of people who are comfortable meeting remotely is also on the rise (including medical visits). Besides not having to leave their home, patients are saving the time they use to waste sitting in the waiting-room for minor injuries, ailments, checkups, quick consultations, needing a prescription and much more. There are so many scenarios in which a video consultation makes life easier.

What’s more, Telemedicine can be accessed 24/7. If a provider decides, they can set up their availability past regular office hours and meet from home. Whether for emergencies, extra time on the weekend and not wanting to go into the office, whatever the reason, It’s up to them and it’s easy. Additionally, patients can just as easily check-in from home. There are even home-use medical devices that give patients the ability to deliver their medical information on-the-spot remotely, and patients have found the ease and accessibility of these devices to improve their standard-of-living.

Where Telemedicine is Going

Telemedicine has been cutting healthcare costs, increasing patient engagement, and giving people who would otherwise not have access to it a better quality of care. Follow-ups are easier than ever and, thus, care outcomes have improved tremendously. Telemedicine is truly changing the game of medicine across the board.

More than simple check-ups, Telemedicine has evolved into telepsychiatry, teleobstetrics, and telerehabilitation, amongst others. Nearly all forms of healthcare are beginning to adopt Telemedicine’s original idea of treating the patient at a distance. Though the ‘Teledactyl’ might not have had it exactly correct, its premonition of viewing and treating the patient remotely lives on and is crossing all boundaries of medicinal sciences.

 

If you’re interested in learning more about Telemedicine and how it can positively impact your life or practice, contact us today and we’ll be happy to learn about your usecase and discuss how we can help you. Our HIPAA-compliant video services and unbeatable customer service will help you connect securely and easily with doctors and patients across the globe.