Video conferencing technologies are rapidly gaining traction in the United States as a way to improve access to medical care and reduce rising healthcare costs. Integration of innovative technological tactics, such as Telemedicine and remote patient monitors is already underway as providers and politicians are hopeful this technology will steer healthcare reform in a direction that benefits patients and stakeholders alike.
The American Telemedicine Association describes Telemedicine as the remote delivery of clinical services by using telecommunication technology. An example of this would be when you visit your physician online through a secure HIPAA-compliant video connection. Telehealth has shown to be a safe, convenient and cost-effective method to deliver healthcare, benefiting both providers and patients in the following areas:
- Expands patients’ access to care
- Improves patient satisfaction
- Reduces rising healthcare costs
Medical specialties such as those in the Behavioral Health field have already seen success with integrating Telehealth into their practice models. The American Psychiatric Association (APA) began researching Telepsychiatry in the 1990s and formed a Committee in 2015 dedicated to helping other institutions or physicians in private practice adopt Telehealth into their therapeutic approach.
Peering through the screen, Telehealth has affected medicine management and behavioral health rehabilitation, (whether upstream or downstream), and improved patient care for over 15 years. Ideally, expanding Telehealth technologies to specialties like home health and Long Term Care could drive economic stability and push political health reform policies in similar directions.
It appears legislation agrees. In 2016, Congress passed the 21st Century Cures Act which boosted funding for more research, specifically to help families dealing with mental health issues and substance abuse. The act also allocates funds for community mental health resources that is dedicated to treating underserved areas.
Continuing the push for Telehealth, Congress passed the Medicare Telehealth Parity Act this year as a way to improve access to Telehealth coverage under Medicare. The act amends a title of the Social Security act and occurs incrementally, broadening Telehealth services to include more healthcare professionals who are able to bill for these services.
Phased in Expansion:
- Certify Additional Healthcare Providers~ This includes Physicians, Nurse Practitioners, Physician Assistants, Nurse-midwives, Clinical Nurse Specialists, Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists, Clinical Psychologists, Clinical Social Workers, and Registered Dietician or Nutrition Professionals.
- Additional Operating Sites~ Expand services to more remote locations.
- Payment Methods~ CMS is to develop and implement new payment methods for Telehealth services.
Telehealth technology offers a key puzzle piece to population wellness and management. Telemedicine is attractive to employers and third-party payers alike because it’s far more cost-effective to keep patients healthy and out of the hospital. When a hospital invests in the well-being of their community, you see the value mirrored in the health of the population your institution treats. Simply put: easier access to healthcare providers online, influences community health.
- Improves the flow of communication between patient and provider
- Replaces time consuming in-patient visits with virtual visits (results in less “no-shows”)
- Reduces trips to the ER/hospital/clinic and possible readmissions
- Allows for the re-appropriation of current and additional resources
- Reduce fragmented care
Telehealth offers an extension of support for patients receiving behavioral health, home health care and countless others. With digital connectivity, there is an instant and continual flow of information that leads to improved communication and care between providers and patients.
If you’re a provider looking to expand your practice reach, SecureVideo offers a HIPAA-compliant videoconferencing system that easily integrates with a provider’s existing workflow environment. With this powerful tool, we’re able to help medical professionals transform the delivery of healthcare!