How State Prisons Use Telemedicine to Improve Care and Reduce Costs

Telemedicine is growing in popularity across numerous industries. One of the most beneficial uses of this technology occurs within the United States prison system. This innovative tech is changing the way we engage with healthcare, particularly in the areas of mental health. Prison operators recognize the enormous benefits of Telemedicine. Here, we examine how state prisons use Telemedicine to improve care and reduce costs.

Improved Behavioral Healthcare

The mental health of inmates is a primary concern to prison operators. The Atlantic reports that 55% of male inmates and 78% of female inmates within the US state prison systems are mentally ill. Some people believe treatment for these issues would have reduced the chance of many individuals becoming incarcerated in the first place. Properly treating mental disorders could then, lead to lower recidivism rates, and it certainly creates a safer environment for guards and inmates. Telemedicine is more effective and efficient than traditional treatment. It allows mental health professionals to see back-to-back patients in a variety of locations. Additionally, if an inmate needs immediate assistance, he or she has quick access to treatment as there is no need for a professional to travel to the prison /or transport the inmate to the doctor. This is extremely useful when an inmate becomes agitated or experiences a serious mental “breakdown.” It is also important to note that many behavioral healthcare professionals are simply uncomfortable entering a prison, and therefore, do not provide services to prison inmates. With Telemedicine, professionals can treat patients from the comfort of their own home or office. Furthermore, scheduling appointments is a simple process, and doctors can easily follow-up with patients.

Cost Effective

Prison operators often struggle to stay within budget. It is difficult to meet all the needs of inmates without exceeding fund limitations. The Vera Institute of Justice estimates the annual cost of incarcerating, a person in the US averages $30, 000-$60,000. Telemedicine helps reduce the cost of behavioral health. Paying a psychiatrist to travel long distances is quite expensive. Alternatively, transporting prisoners to healthcare professionals raises safety concerns, as well as increasing costs. With the large percentage of inmates needing psychiatric care, the compounded cost saving of using Telemedicine is enormous.

Increased Safety

Safety and security are additional concerns for prison operators. As we briefly mentioned in the sections above, Telemedicine helps create a safer environment for everyone. By properly treating mental illness, inmates are less likely to become violent or create problems for guards and other prisoners. Let’s imagine a common scenario where an inmate needs a change in medication. He is upset and acting out. It might take a week or longer for him to see a psychiatrist with the traditional methods of care. During this waiting period, things could go terribly wrong as he grows increasingly agitated. However, with Telemedicine, he can see a doctor within hours, rather than weeks. His medication is quickly switched, and the situation is diffused immediately. Additionally, security risks are lowered by eliminating the need for transportation to and from psychiatric facilities. The importance of these benefits cannot be understated. The improved safety implications are far-reaching within the prison system.

Telemedicine is increasingly gaining traction as state laws change to meet the needs of various medical use cases. The ability to access behavioral health professionals quickly and easily is shifting mental healthcare as we know it. Not only are states becoming more inclusive, one of SecureVideo’s main priorities is an easy and pleasant user experience for all with a 24/7 support team to back it up.

Contact us for more information.

Avoid Fines by Using a HIPAA-Compliant Video Service

Telemedicine services are an increasingly popular amenity for healthcare providers to offer patients, but unless the video service used is specifically developed for healthcare providers, it is likely in violation of HIPAA and could result in sizable fines.

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) contains two rules that dictate how healthcare providers must protect their patients’ information. This includes any interactions via video conferencing.

  1. Privacy Rule
    The Privacy Rulerequires that healthcare providers use administrativephysical, and technical safeguards to protect a patient’s health information, whether it be in written, oral, or electronic form. However, the rule is deliberately flexible so that health providers can make their own determinations on safeguards that best match the needs of their practices.
  2. Security Rule
    The Security Ruleis focused solely on electronic records and dictates the implementation of security measures to ensure that those records remain private. The two rules are closely related, with the Security Rule adding additional protections on top of those mandated by the Privacy Rule.

HIPAA Enforcement
HIPAA is enforced by the Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights (OCR), which investigates potential violations and levies fines. In 2009, OCR’s ability to enforce HIPPA was strengthened with the passing of the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act, which increased potential fines and created four tiers of penalty amounts from $100 to $1.5 million per violation. In addition, the HITECH Act also bars organizations from using the defense that they are ignorant of HIPAA rules in order to avoid penalties.

Why Act Now?
HIPAA allows healthcare providers to make security decisions based on risk analyses. In a risk analysis between using a non-HIPAA-compliant video service and a HIPAA-compliant service, there would be few, if any, arguments for using the former over the latter.

While HIPAA-compliant services may not be free, they are relatively inexpensive, easy to install, and easy to use. Therefore, any healthcare provider not using a HIPAA-compliant service is liable to be investigated and fined by OCR for not taking appropriate measures to safeguard their patients’ protected health information.

Since 2003, OCR has investigated over 100,000 cases, levying over $75 million in fines. One of the top five compliance issues investigated was a lack of safeguards over electronic protected health information and the top two entities investigated have been general hospitals and private practices and physicians. OCR has and will take punitive action against healthcare providers of any size who do not safeguard their patients’ protected health information.

In addition to being fined, any healthcare provider that ends up on the HHS “Wall of Shame” has damaged their reputation. If a provider does not do everything possible to secure their patients’ protected health information, then not only are they in violation of HIPAA, they are violating their patients’ trust.

HIPAA-Compliant Video Conferencing

With many seeing telemedicine as the future of healthcare, it is essential that healthcare providers offering this service use a HIPAA-compliant video service with appropriate encryption and the ability to set user roles and permissions for staff members.

For further protection, that video service should also include a Business Associate Agreement, which states that any potential security breach or mishandling of protected health information on the service provider’s part is the liability of that provider, not the medical practice.

Protecting a patient’s health information should be a health provider’s top priority. Not only is it the law, it’s good business sense and the right thing to do.


SecureVideo is a HIPAA-compliant video service that securely connects patients and providers across the world. If you’re interested in learning more, contact us today.

The 6 Largest HIPAA Fines of 2017

Anyone handling protected health information (PHI), as defined under HIPAA, accepts a strong obligation to protect it. Transferring or storing it insecurely can be very costly. The Office of Civil Rights (OCR) collected penalties of over a million dollars six times in 2017 for violations. Five of these cases involved failure to protect electronic data.

Telehealth involves the storage and transmission of electronic protected health information (ePHI), and it has to be diligently protected. This requires risk assessments, data protection policies, and procedures that carry them out.

Memorial Healthcare Systems – $5.5 million

The largest assessment, $5.5 million, fell on Memorial Healthcare Systems, which operates six hospitals and other facilities in Florida. Unauthorized employees had access to ePHI through shared login credentials. The reasons for the huge fine included failure to review access controls and examine audit logs. Credentials cannot be shared.

OCR treats breaches severely when it finds that they’re the result of systematic neglect. An organization that suffers a data leak in spite of consistently good security practices might get only recommendations on improving them. One which is negligent, as in this case, could be made to give up a large amount of money and demonstrate improvement in its practices.

Children’s Medical Center of Dallas – $3.2 million

In second place, Children’s Medical Center of Dallas paid a civil penalty of $3.2 million. In 2009, it had lost an unencrypted BlackBerry device at an airport, containing ePHI on 3,800 people. In 2013, it lost an unencrypted laptop with ePHI on 2,462 people. OCR found its failure to encrypt devices that left the office was chronic and detrimental.

HHS’s press release cites CMC of Dallas as having”non-compliance over many years with multiple standards of the HIPAA security rule.” Once again, the failure to fix ongoing problems was a major factor in the amount levied.

CardioNet – $2.5 million

The third largest amount came in the first HIPAA settlement that involved wireless health services. CardioNet, which specializes in cardiac outpatient telemetry had to pay $2.5 million. While investigating the 2012 theft of a laptop from an employee’s car, OCR found CardioNet didn’t have any policies in final form for protecting ePHI. The lack of protection for mobile devices was a special concern. The required corrective action includes creating policies and procedures for protecting portable devices and storage media.

Memorial Hermann Health System – $2.4 million

The case of Memorial Hermann Health System is an odd one, showing that what would normally be acceptable disclosure can be forbidden under HIPAA. It cost MHHS $2.4 million for violating the Privacy Rule, putting it in fourth place.

In 2015, a patient at an MHHS clinic allegedly presented a fraudulent identification card. The staff called the police, who arrested the patient. Then MHHS issued a press release about the arrest, naming the patient. Under HIPAA rules, that’s illegal. The staff didn’t violate HIPAA by notifying the police and naming the accused person, but revealing the name to the public constituted disclosing PHI in the form of the patient’s name. This was the only penalty in the top six that didn’t involve electronic data security.

21st Century Oncology – $2.3 million

The case of 21st Century Oncology, a Florida provider of cancer care services, drew the fifth highest penalty: $2.3 million. This case started with two break-ins to 21 CO’s servers that resulted in the sale of data to an FBI informant. The breaches exposed confidential information on over 2 million people, including names, Social Security numbers, and diagnoses. OCR’s investigation found inadequate security protections and a lack of risk assessment procedures and activity reviews.

In May 2017, 21CO filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. It exited Chapter 11 status in January 2018.

MAPFRE – $2.2 million

Finally, MAPFRE Life Insurance Company of Puerto Rico agreed to pay $2.2 million for disclosure of ePHI. The starting incident was the theft of a USB drive from MAPFRE’s IT department. It contained names and Social Security numbers for 2,209 people. The OCR investigation found a lack of risk assessment plans and a failure to encrypt data. HHS reports that MAPFRE didn’t consistently encrypt portable data until almost three years after the theft. Its failure to implement corrective measures, after promising OCR that it would, was a factor in the heavy assessment.

As these cases show, data leaks will draw the attention of the OCR and can mean heavy financial penalties. Any discussion of patient information needs protection against thieves, accidents and even disasters. SecureVideo’s platform supports HIPAA-compliant videoconferencing and includes many features such as encrypted chat and file transfers. Contact us to learn how SecureVideo can help your organization provide secure and quality care to your patients.

The eNLC Is Changing the Future of Healthcare

The Enhanced Nurse Licensure Compact (eNLC) has been implemented as of January 19, 2018. This means that any nurse living in an eNLC state can apply for a multistate license and practice in any of the participating states without maintaining individual state licenses. There are currently 29 states opted into the compact but more are expected to follow.

What is the eNLC?

In 1997, Boards of Nursing (BONs) developed the Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC), which enabled nurses to have a license in their state of residency and practice in other NLC states. Overseen by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN), the NLC was implemented in 2000 and approved by 24 states by 2010. Then it hit a speed bump.

Among other things, state legislatures wanted a criminal background check on all NLC licensed nurses. So, in 2015, BONs executive officers unveiled the Enhanced Nursing Licensure Compact (eNLC) with 11 uniform licensure agreements including a background check requirement.

By June 20, 2017, 26 states, which was the number of states needed to implement the program, had approved eNLC legislation. Currently, there are 29 member states, and eight more have pending eNLC legislation on their rosters.

The Beginning of a Healthcare Revolution

The eNLC is the first multistate licensing agreement in the healthcare industry that covers the majority of the United States. Nurses living in eNLC states no longer have to pay additional license fees and complete multiple lengthy application processes in order to practice in other eNLC states. They also don’t have to maintain these additional licenses (which requires renewal every two years).

Greater Mobility

The implementation of eNLC means that nurses living on state borders can easily practice in a neighboring state. Military spouses moving every few years can find a new job more quickly. This new mobility is especially important for traveling nurses who take care of our most vulnerable—home care nurses, hospice nurses, and caseworkers. And in the event of an emergency in an eNLC state, nurses across the country can volunteer their services.

Improved Telemedicine Experiences

One of the most exciting benefits of the eNLC is that it comes right when telemedicine is reaching its stride. For telemedicine to flourish, healthcare providers need the ability to work across state borders, and the implementation of the eNLC is a first big step in that direction.

Patients who don’t live near limited healthcare providers will now have access to the expertise of nurses across the country. Growing telemedicine practices will have a larger network of top quality medical expertise, and patients will in turn have a greater choice of healthcare providers.

As more states adopt eNLC, the healthcare industry will be closer to meeting the growing challenges of a more mobile—both physically and virtually—patient community by expanding job opportunities for nurses and healthcare opportunities for the public.

But this is only the first step. The creation of eNLC and its adoption by the majority of the United States has paved the way for other medical associations to create similar multistate license agreements, so in the coming years, healthcare in the United States will be easier to access and easier to provide.


SecureVideo is a HIPAA-compliant video service that securely connects patients and providers across the world. If you’re interested in learning more, contact us today.

New Budget Deal Expands Telehealth Reimbursement

The Telehealth services industry has a new victory over a former foe—reimbursement barriers. The 2017 KLAS and CHIME research survey reports that half of the participating health organizations stated that reimbursement was a limitation and a barrier for their Telehealth programs. The latest groundbreaking legislation has removed that barrier.

After a five-hour government shutdown, President Trump signed a $400 billion budget deal into law on February 9, 2018. The budget deal expands the Telehealth reimbursement under the (CHRONIC) Care Act. This recent legislation will increase electronic interaction between healthcare providers and patients—providing more access to video conferencing and remote technology.

Senator Brian Schatz commented about the new law on his Twitter account: “Tucked into the bill signed are the most significant changes ever made to Medicare law to use Telehealth. It will increase access and quality of care, and reduce costs using tech that’s already available.”

The Creating High-Quality Results and Outcomes Necessary to Improve Chronic (CHRONIC) Care Act opened doors for healthcare providers by lifting outdated restrictions that limited Medicare reimbursements for telehealth. Although the signed bill expands telehealth provisions specifically for the Medicare demographic, advocates say that it could impact future legislation. reports, “New data that will come out of expanded coverage in the Medicare Advantage program could be an important driver in furthering telehealth coverage across Medicare.”

What is Telehealth?

According to the Federal Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), “Telehealth is defined as the use of electronic information and telecommunication technologies to support and promote long-distance clinical health care.” The Center for Connected Health Policy (CCHP) also defines telehealth as “the wide range of diagnosis and management, education, and other related fields of health care.”

Telehealth Technologies

The CCHP lists the different telehealth technologies below:

  • Live video: A two-way interaction between a person (patient, caregiver, or provider) and a provider using audiovisual telecommunications technology.
  • Remote patient monitoring (RPM): The personal health and medical data collected from an individual in one location via electronic communication technologies, which is transmitted to a provider in a different location for use in care and related support.
  • Mobile health (mHealth): Healthcare and public health practice and education supported by mobile communication devices such as cell phones and tablet computers. Applications can range from targeted text messages that promote healthy behavior to wide-scale alerts about disease outbreaks, to name a few examples.
  • Store-and-forward: An asynchronous conversation when a patient sends a specialist or doctor X-rays, scanned documents or test results.

What are the Benefits of the Telehealth Expansion?

  • Reduced healthcare costs and increased efficiency.
  • Improved quality of care and accessibility for long-distance patients.
  • Allows health IT staff to be more responsive to patients.
  • Overall increased satisfaction due to reduced patient wait times with fast and easy remote communication.
  • Increased patient engagement through the use of modern technology.
  • Results in lower readmission rates and/or shorter hospital stays.

Considering the wide range of benefits from the telehealth expansion, it has received bipartisan support in Congress from both the Democratic and Republican party. As usual, both political parties have differences but have come together to provide Americans with better healthcare options.

“The budget deal doesn’t have everything Democrats want; it doesn’t have everything the Republicans want, but it has what the American people need,” Sen. Chuck Schumer, said in a statement.

Who We Are

SecureVideo offers medical providers a secure and reliable HIPAA-compliant video conferencing software to meet with their patients. With a suite of standard features and unlimited 24/7 technical support, we make it easy to set up, connect and track appointments. Our services allow you to offer your patients a virtual waiting room where they can RSVP the session, complete paperwork and make payments. Contact us today to find out how our other features can enhance your patient experience.


Never Underestimate the Importance of HIPAA Compliance

Am I HIPAA compliant?

This question ought to be foremost in the minds of medical providers, as the vast implications of HIPAA (or the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) can affect pocketbooks and lives. As the field of medicine becomes more technologically entrenched, we need to focus more than ever on how to make Telehealth encounters HIPAA-compliant.

Consider, for instance, a nurse who uploads a photo to Snapchat at her open workstation. Could she face fines? Yes. An MD uses iMessage to send PHI to another provider. Is this a HIPAA violation? Yes.

How is compliance enforced?

In 2017, a wireless health services provider known as Cardionet paid $2.5 million in HIPAA fines. They reported to the Department of Health and Human Services a lost employee laptop in 2012. Per the HHS report: “OCR’s investigation into the impermissible disclosure revealed that CardioNet had an insufficient risk analysis and risk management processes in place at the time of the theft. Additionally, CardioNet’s policies and procedures implementing the standards of the HIPAA Security Rule were in draft form and had not been implemented. Further, the Pennsylvania –based organization was unable to produce any final policies or procedures regarding the implementation of safeguards for ePHI, including those for mobile devices).” Not knowing the rules does not mean you can violate them.

According to the American Medical Association, civil monetary penalties for HIPAA violations range from $100-1.5 million per year depending on the cause and intent, and whether or not corrections were made. Violators could also face imprisonment from 1-10 years depending on the type of offense. Although health insurance providers and health plans can dominate the media reporting of HIPAA violations (over 500 providers in 2017 paid over $19 million in fines), HIPAA violations can affect individuals, Medicare prescription drug card sponsors, and anyone who provides health care. According to the Compliancy Group, “Once you’ve had a HIPAA breach, the name of your practice is permanently listed on Breach Portal–including the offense, date, and number of individuals affected. “If you review the Department of Health and Human Services “Breach Portal,” you will note that violations related to email, laptop, server errors far outnumber the cases related to unauthorized access to paper files.

What are the chances that I’ll be fined?

Beyond the financial and legal implications, providers should strive to want to protect their patient’s protected health information. HIPAA violations breach patients’ trust and confidence in their providers. Especially now that we have such HIPAA compliant resources, it has never been easier to provide the telehealth services patients want while still maintaining compliance.

The importance of HIPAA compliance in Telehealth encounters cannot be understated. As the brick and mortar walls fade in medicine, we need to redouble efforts to remain HIPAA compliant to protect patients and avoid significant penalties.


Want to offer Telehealth services using the most reliable HIPAA video conferencing platform? Sign up for our free 14 day trial to get started!

House Passes Important Telemedicine Bill Concerning Veterans

Towards the end of 2017, the House passed a major bill concerning all Veterans regarding health care. It’s called the Veterans E-Health and Telemedicine Support Act of 2017 (VETS) (H.R. 2123). In short, the goal is to allow medical professionals the ability to provide Telemedicine services regardless of where the professional or patient is located. As long as that provider holds a professional license in one state, they would be able to provide VA medical or health services.


The VETS Act of 2017 was introduced in Congress with bipartisan support by Reps. Julia Brownley (D-Calif.) and Glenn Thompson (R-Pa.) in April of last year but has recently passed the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs with little opposition, paving the way for the bill to become law.

Last September the VA published a proposed rule in the Federal Register that would allow VA health care providers to practice Telehealth across state lines, as long as their licenses permit them within their own state. Their vision for this rule is to “ensure that VA health care providers provide the same level of care to all beneficiaries, irrespective of the State or location in a State of the VA health care provider or the beneficiary.”

Veterans would not be disadvantaged by their location, which may have a lack of specialists or even general providers. The rule would provide options and availability that would otherwise not exist because instead of being limited to providers in one state, they would have options from 50.

How H.R. 2123 Helps Veterans and Doctors

As the rules stand now, VA officials may only permit healthcare professionals to work across state lines via Telemedicine if the veteran and the doctor are located on a federally owned facility. This has ostensibly caused many problems for patients who live in rural areas and are not located near a location that is federally owned. Furthermore, the doctors themselves are limited to treating patients who fall under the very narrow criteria as it’s currently written. H.R. 2123 aims to mitigate these barriers by allowing doctors to work across state lines via Telemedicine while also allowing the patients to be treated within their own communities or homes. Removing the location boundaries is a great benefit to veterans who would, without Telehealth, not have access to medical professionals trained to deal with their unique conditions and circumstances.

According to the VA, 12% of the United States’ veterans received Telehealth in 2016 and 90% of those treated said they were satisfied with the online platform.

The American Telemedicine Association and Health IT Now have both come in strong support of the bill and believe it will give patients greater access to the healthcare they need and rightfully deserve after serving our country.

Setting the Stage for Future Telemedicine Practices to Work Across State Lines

If H.R. 2123 becomes law and VA providers can demonstrate that Telemedicine is just as effective as an in-person visit (but with added benefits), the future of Telemedicine for other practitioners and patients is sure to change.
When patients can meet providers virtually they have the option to choose the best one for themselves and get second opinions. Take for example, a behavioral health specialist and a patient that cannot emotionally connect, should they be forced to continue their relationship because he is the only specialist in the area? Or should the patient stop seeking treatment?

Neither of these are a viable solution. Telemedicine would help the patient find a suitable provider while minimizing time and distance constraints. Receiving quality, at-home care is not just a matter of convenience but sometimes of necessity; it can be the difference between going to a professional and not. This is worth opening the law to include all patients.

While patients should have a hassle free way of connecting with out of state doctors, so should providers. This law would remove the frustration of maintaining multiple state licenses (as long as the provider maintains the license of their home state). We can see that this is actually being implemented for physical therapists, and nurses as well come 2018. Allowing a provider to legally practice over state lines is something that make sense for everyone. Once allowed, it would easily become a mainstream practice.


If you’re interested in learning more about Telehealth and how it can positively impact your work and the lives of patients across the country, contact us today. SecureVideo is a HIPAA-compliant video service that securely connects patients and providers across the world.

What You Need to Know About Net Neutrality

On December 14th, 2017 the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted to repeal net neutrality rules put in place in 2015 under Title II to encourage and protect an open and free internet. The repeal comes as both a surprise and a concern to many American citizens who are unsure how the repeal will affect them, and what the consequences are of eradicating net neutrality protections.

So what is net neutrality, and what does it mean for the millions of Americans who use the internet and its many services and applications, such as videoconferencing or movie streaming? We’ll cover the basics and how you can help keep the internet free and fair for everyone.

If the FCC repeals Net Neutrality, ISPs have the power to block access to any site or app and increase pricing at their own discretion.


What is Net Neutrality?

First passed in February 2015 by the FCC, net neutrality regulations reclassified broadband as a common carrier; in other words, the internet was to be treated like a utility. This meant internet service providers, also known as ISPs, would have to:

  • support an open and free internet by promising not to censor or discriminate against any content, and
  • treat all legal internet traffic equally.

Thanks to a free and open internet, we can currently access our favorite websites, movies, shows and games at a reliable speed.

Why is Net Neutrality Important to Me?

Unfortunately, ISPs have a track record of abusing open internet rights prior to net neutrality. In 2013-2014, Comcast and Verizon famously took advantage of their power by throttling Netflix speeds for users to bully Netflix into paying sky-high rates for prioritized access.

Without net neutrality, large companies such as Comcast, Verizon and AT&T will be in charge of our access to the internet and can control:

  • what we view, read or say;
  • how (and how quickly) we view, read or say things; and
  • different ideas and opinions.

A loss of net neutrality can easily lead to a loss of freedom of speech, ending with all content you see or read carefully controlled by a handful of corporations.

How Can I Help Protect a Free and Open Internet?

Currently, the net neutrality repeal vote can be challenged and reversed by congress. You can help restore net neutrality regulations and fight for a free and open internet by:

  • contacting your lawmakers and showing your support for net neutrality,
  • urging lawmakers to file a resolution of disapproval on the repeal, and
  • spreading the word to family and friends about the importance of net neutrality.

The FCC and ISPs must be shown citizens and customers not only expect an open and free internet, but deserve it as well. The internet is for everyone to enjoy and by working together we can protect it.


Finally, How Does This Affect SecureVideo Customers?

If passed, this ruling would effect everyone, including us. We can’t predict the extent, but we stand by our customers and we are dedicated to upholding the highest standards in the industry. As a SecureVideo customer, you’ll continue to have reliable service from us.


Texas Senate Bill Eases Telemedicine Restrictions

Significant legislation concerning Telemedicine and Telehealth Services was enacted in Texas when Governor Greg Abbott signed Senate Bill 1107 into law on May 27, 2017. The bill removes one of the most significant hurdles for Telemedicine in the state, which is the requirement for a pre-established doctor-patient relationship. In other words, having met in-person before using virtual services. Without this blockade, Telehealth can offer greater access to healthcare for individuals with mobility issues or live in areas where long distance travel is necessary to consult with a Primary Care Physician. Texas’s passage of SB 1107 eliminates this hurdle making Texas the final state to remove this restriction of healthcare access.

Telemedicine services have proliferated in the United States in part because the service can significantly reduce the cost of healthcare by reducing travel times, staffing and overhead requirements. The service involves approved health care providers, such as physicians, or physician assistants and advanced practice nurses acting under the supervision and authority of a licensed physician, diagnosing and treating patients from a remote area.

Additionally, the new legislation opens the market in Texas and ends a longstanding legal battle between Telemedicine service provider Teladoc and the Texas Medical Board (TMB).
BACKGROUND: In 2010 TMB began restricting the service, especially when practiced by video in 2010 with a rule revision that required an in-person visit to establish a doctor-patient relationship. Teladoc then sued TMB maintaining that the board’s interpretation of the law was a rule in itself, one made without following proper procedures for rulemaking.

The case was eventually heard by The Supreme Court with Teledoc suing under antitrust laws and maintaining that TMB acted as a group of practicing physicians who had a financial interest in restricting telemedicine and eliminating competition. The board had responded by stating that the phone-only services were exploiting a loophole in the rule and that the rule was intended to forbid all Telemedicine without first establishing an in-person relationship. The court found the case in favor of Teledoc.

The passage of SB 1107 will benefit the citizens of Texas in many ways as it is the second largest state in the union with a population growing at a rate faster than all other states. In addition, it has a very geographically dispersed population with significant amounts of rural poverty. To top this off, Teladoc CEO Jason Gorevic has noted that Texas ranks 46th in the U.S. regarding primary care physicians per capita, with only 71 Primary Care Physicians per 100,000 people and “has 35 counties that don’t have a single family physician in them.” Without Telehealth technology, these factors combined create a significant issue with healthcare accessibility in the state.

Elderly patients, patients in the workforce, or those with limited mobility can receive professional healthcare from anywhere they have internet access. Instead of making an extendedtrip to see a doctor, they are able to eliminate the costs of travel and any emotional and physical stress it can cause. Additionally, patients can receive treatment from physicians or specialists around the world. Someone they might not be able to meet with otherwise.

Telemedicine is a rapidly advancing technology that continues to prove its benefits and efficiencies while becoming more powerful, yet easier to use.

To learn more about using Telemedicine with your practice, contact us today.

Telemedicine: The Future of Healthcare

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: 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.