Telehealth in the News

Check out the latest in telehealth news and updates:

  • Healthcare Consumers Show Mounting Interest in Virtual, On-Demand Care

    FierceHealthcare

    The majority of consumers are interested in some kind of virtual medical care, particularly following a hospital stay, according to a new survey. Sixty percent of broadband households say they are interested in remote care options, an indication that strong potential exists within the virtual care market moving forwards, according to portions of a  survey released by Parks Associates. The firm plans to present the full findings at the Connected Health Summit in San Diego at the end of August. Most respondents were interested in remote care following a hospitalization, although there was also notable interest in managing chronic conditions and routine checkups. Seven in 10 broadband households said they were also interested in visiting physician services. Additional data provided to FierceHealthcare indicates 40% of respondents are interested in communicating digitally with their medical professional, but just 20% want to correspond via text message.  

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  • New Jersey Authorizes Telemedicine Services

    The National Law Review

    New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has signed into law Senate Bill S291 (the “Act”), which authorizes New Jersey health care providers to offer telemedicine services. New Jersey had previously been one of the few states that had not expressly authorized telemedicine services. This alert discusses providers’ responsibilities under the Act, including establishing a proper provider-patient relationship, permitted technology and record-keeping policies. The Act permits health care services to be provided remotely through technological means, as long as a proper provider-patient relationship has been established. A proper provider-patient relationship may be established without an initial in-person visit, but must include identification of the provider and patient, review of the patient’s medical history and available medical records by the provider prior to an initial encounter with the patient, and the provider’s determination that he/she will be able to meet the same standard of care for the patient with telemedicine services as would be provided if the services were rendered in person. If the same standard of care cannot be met, the provider must direct the patient to seek in-person care.

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  • Telemedicine Could Help Medicaid Patients With Specialty Access

    mHealth Intelligence

    New research indicates telemedicine consults for specialty referrals could improve much-needed access for Medicaid populations. It also could offer support to an innovative telehealth platform now being used in nine states to connect doctors, Medicaid patients and specialists online. That conclusion comes out of a study, reported in the Aug. 14 online edition of JAMA Internal Medicine, which found that specialty access standards adopted by some state Medicaid programs did not make specialty care more accessible for beneficiaries. Researchers instead suggested “more innovative solutions,” such as a digital health platform enabling beneficiaries to meet specialists online. “One way to make specialty care more available is to facilitate electronic or telemedicine specialty consultation,” Mitchell H. Katz, MD, of the Los Angeles Department of Health Services, wrote in an accompanying editorial. “Whether time synchronous (i.e. patient and physician are connected audibly and/or visually at separate locations) or dyssynchronous (electric consultation sent by a primary care physician to a specialist who responds in a matter of days) these alternative type of consultations allow patients to receive rapid specialty advice without the need for traveling and typically at lower cost.” Katz also highlighted a significant barrier to telemedicine consults: reimbursement.

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  • Alabama County Commission to Tackle Telehealth Engagement Issue

    mHealth Intelligence

    An Alabama county commission is reversing its decision to end a telehealth program for almost 400 employees, saying rising healthcare costs are more damaging than low engagement. The Morgan County Commission rescinded its decision last week to cut ties with MD Live, which serves the county’s roughly 390 employees for $14,000 a year. The commission had originally decided – unanimously - to end the contract because only 15 people used the service last year. But with the self-insured county due to close the fiscal year (ending Sept. 30) some $800,000 in the red in healthcare costs, commissioners reversed course, saying they’d rather keep the telehealth program going and tackle the engagement issue head-on.

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  • Telehealth Stands to Gain from Anthem’s ER Policy Expansion

    mHealth Intelligence

    Anthem is expanding its strategy of denying payments for unnecessary ER visits, a move that could push more consumers across the country toward telehealth or mHealth services.  The insurer, which administers Blue Cross Blue Shield plans in 14 states, launched the initiative this past July in Georgia, saying members should use the payer’s telehealth service or visit an urgent care or retail clinic rather than visiting a hospital for a non-emergency health issue. Similar strategies are in place in Kentucky and Missouri. Now Anthem is targeting Indiana. Officials say their state plans, covering some 1.1 million residents, pay for about 200,000 ER visits a year, costing millions of dollars. And those numbers are growing almost 8 percent a year. “What we’ve seen over the last three or four years is a gradual, increased use of the emergency room,” Dr. Joseph Fox, medical director for Anthem’s Indiana operations, told the Indianapolis Business Journal. “And some of those visits could be performed at a lower-cost site of service.” According to Anthem, an ER visit costs about $1,200 on average, compared to $190 for a visit to an urgent care center, $125 for a trip to the doctor’s office and $85 for an appointment at a walk-in clinic at a pharmacy. Consumer-facing telehealth programs, meanwhile, generally charge between $50 and $80 for an online visit.

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  • New Legislation Expands the Scope of Telemedicine in New Jersey

    The National Law Review

    In July of 2017, Governor Christie signed legislation that will expand the scope of telemedicine practice in New Jersey.[1]  Some of the highlights of the legislation include the following:  The law provides that unless specifically prohibited or limited by federal or state law, a health care provider who establishes a proper provider-patient relationship may remotely provide health care services to a patient through the use of telemedicine and may also engage in telehealth as may be necessary to support or facilitate the provision of health care services.

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  • VA Wants its Doctors to Treat Veterans Anywhere With Telehealth

    mHealth Intelligence

    Federal officials have unveiled a plan to give VA doctors the authority to treat veterans via telemedicine no matter where those veterans are located. In a ceremony attended by President Donald Trump this past week, Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin announced the “Anywhere to Anywhere VA Healthcare Initiative,” which would allow VA doctors to connect with veterans in any state through a telehealth link. Shulkin earned praise from, among others, the American Telemedicine Association – which has scheduled him as a keynote speaker at its fall conference in the nation’s capital – and Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), whose Veterans E-Health & Telemedicine Support (VETS) Act of 2017 seeks to give VA doctors that same authority. Shulkin said he wants to free up the VA to hire more healthcare providers in urban areas, where they’re in abundance, to be able to treat veterans living in rural and underserved areas. But he may face opposition from groups like the American Medical Association, which has opposed the VETS Act and argued that such efforts rob state medical boards of the right to govern and police their own doctors.

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  • New Jersey’s Telemedicine Law: What Providers Need to Know

    The National Law Review

    New Jersey has a new telemedicine law, recently signed by Governor Chris Christie. The law cements the validity of telehealth services in the Garden State, establishes telemedicine practice standards, and imposes telehealth coverage requirements for New Jersey Medicaid, Medicaid managed care, commercial health plans, and other State-funded health insurance. After a year of debate in the New Jersey Legislature, the bill (SB 291 now P.L.2017, c.117) unanimously passed both the House and Senate before going to the Governor’s Office. The law is effective July 21, 2017. The new law is quite lengthy, but we have summarized and explained the essential provisions below:

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  • Telehealth Expansion Would Hardly Change Medicare Costs, CBO Says

    Medscape

    The telehealth provisions of the Chronic Care Act of 2017 would have a relatively small effect on Medicare spending over the next 10 years, according to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO). This bill is one of several measures with telehealth components that are pending in Congress. The Senate version of the legislation, S. 870, would expand the use of telehealth services for Medicare beneficiaries, partly by lifting the geographic limitations that Medicare now imposes on these services. For example, the bill would increase the ability of accountable care organizations (ACOs) to receive Medicare payments for telehealth services, beginning in 2020. It would eliminate the geographic component of the originating site requirement and would allow ACOs to receive Medicare payments for telehealth supplied in a patient's home. The CBO estimates that this provision would increase Medicare spending by about $50 million from 2018 to 2027.

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  • Healthcare Deal Targets Telemedicine for Military Deployments

    mHealth Intelligence

    A Washington, D.C.-based health system known for its telehealth services to the maritime industry is bolstering its telemedicine platform to treat deployed military personnel around the globe. The partnership is the latest example of efforts by the U.S. Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs to treat military personnel – both active and retired – and their dependents via telehealth. George Washington University Medical Faculty Associates (MFA), comprised of more than 750 physicians and 50 specialties, has announced a partnership with defense contractor SOSi International to create a telemedicine platform that can deliver emergency healthcare to personnel deployed in remote locations, including potential battlefields. 

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  • Trump Introduces New Telehealth Initiative For Veterans

    Washington Post

    President Trump joined Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin to announce a new telehealth program for veterans on Aug. 3. "This will significantly expand access and care for our veterans, especially for those who need help in the area of mental health," he said.

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  • Telemedicine Laws Gain Momentum With Passage in 2 More States

    mHealth Intelligence

    Two more states now have telemedicine laws on the books, adding to the ranks of states clearly defining what can and can’t be called telehealth and telemedicine.  Minnesota’s new regulations became law on August 1. S.F. 1353, unanimously passed by the state’s Legislature and approved by Gov. Mark Dayton on May 17, defines telemedicine as “the delivery of healthcare services or consultations while the patient is at an originating site and the licensed healthcare provider is at a distant site.”  The simply worded law further states that telemedicine “may be provided by means of real-time two-way interactive audio, and visual communications, including the application of secure video conferencing or store-and-forward technology to provide or support healthcare delivery, that facilitate the assessment, diagnosis, consultation, treatment, education and care management of a patient's healthcare.”  

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  • Legislators Urge FCC to Open Up TV Airwaves for Telemedicine

    mHealth Intelligence

    Congress and telemedicine advocates are jumping on the bandwagon to open up so-called TV white space for telehealth and other uses. A bipartisan group of 43 members of Congress is urging the Federal Communications Commission to designate unused TV airwaves for the broadcasting of high-speed Internet to underserved parts of the country. The lobbying effort follows an announcement last month by Microsoft that it would use TV white space - unused UHV television band spectrum below the 700 MHz frequency range that enables wireless signals to travel over hills and through buildings and trees - to bring Internet to millions of rural Americans and foster development of telehealth and other programs.

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  • How Technology Is Changing Nursing: The Impact of Telehealth

    Medscape

    Within the past decade, many advances in technology have been made available to help nurses and clinicians perform their jobs and care for patients more efficiently and safely. Consequently, nursing today isn't the same as it was 30 years ago. From such inventions as tablet computers and mobile electronic charts, to radio-frequency identification (RFID)-enabled devices, the healthcare landscape is becoming more advanced and efficient, and the field of nursing has adapted along with these advances.  Naturally, many of these technologies did and still do require education, training, and a period of adoption for nurses to fully embrace them; implementation doesn't simply happen overnight. Evolving care delivery processes in such areas of the hospital as intensive care units (ICUs), emergency/trauma treatment, and recovery rooms have created a need for nurses with advanced clinical skills and technical savvy. Today, nurses are adapting along with the industry to take advantage of new career opportunities and expand their roles across the care continuum.

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  • Congress is Coming at CMS From All Angles With Telehealth Bills

    mHealth Intelligence

    With the CONNECT for Health Act showing no signs of positive momentum on Capitol Hill, telehealth-friendly legislators are trying a new tactic: Introduce several telemedicine bills aimed at different facets of Medicare, with the hope that at least one becomes law. The latest proposal, offered by U.S. Reps. Doris Matsui (D-Calif.) and Bill Johnson (R-Ohio), takes a more evidenced-based approach to telehealth policy. The as-yet-unnumbered bill directs Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price to pick and choose which telehealth services are either reducing wasteful spending or improving clinical outcomes – or both – and allows him to carve out Medicare restrictions that hinder the service’s expansion. “The bill … aims to increase telehealth services through Medicare by removing some of the arbitrary barriers to access currently in place,” Johnson said in a joint press release with Matsui. “Increasing access to telehealth isn’t a partisan issue; rather, it’s a service that has proven to be very beneficial to many rural Americans – and it should be expanded. Instead of placing restrictions on telehealth coverage through Medicare, we need to do the opposite and allow for more people the opportunity to utilize this emerging technology.” 

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