sick woman on telemedicine visit

6 Things We Learned at ATA 2017

This year’s American Telemedicine Association conference just wrapped up this week in Orlando. The theme, Telehealth 2.0, emphasized that when it’s done right, telehealth can benefit patients and providers, and they both prefer it. Throughout the numerous panels and talks, the tremendous growth of the industry showcased innovation, technology, and workable solutions. In case you missed it, here are the top six takeaways that we learned from the conference. Read more

Report Card: Most Improved A+

ATA’s Annual Reports Reveal Growth in Telemedicine Adoption

Last week, the American Telemedicine Association (ATA) issued its yearly reports of telemedicine coverage, reimbursement, and standards across the country. In general, telemedicine has consistently become an accepted tool by patients, providers, and third-party payers in all states, with improved coverage and reimbursement in several states. Some state legislatures are removing restrictive requirements for physician practice standards, even allowing them to practice telemedicine across state lines. Read more

A passerby helps a woman with stroke.

New Standards Published for Telestroke Programs

For the first time, official guidelines have been published for the use of telemedicine in potential stroke cases. The American Heart Association (AHA) and American Stroke Association (ASA) recently released a joint scientific statement describing quality measures and outcomes for telestroke. The document was prepared in response to the rapid growth of telestroke over the past decade. Now, hospitals can quantitatively measure their telestroke programs against these standards in order to ensure they are providing high quality care. Read more

Interstate Licensure Compact Goes Live

interstate licensure map

Blue indicates states where the compact is enacted, orange indicates states where it has been introduced. Map from licenseportability.org, sponsored by The Federation of State Medical Boards.

Slightly old news, but on May 19th (only two weeks after the American Telemedicine Association’s Annual Meeting and Trade Show), enough states signed the Interstate Licensure Compact into law to trigger forming the Interstate Licensure Compact Commission. Each state will appoint two commissioners who will help oversee and administer the compact.

This is a highly important event, as it marks the beginnings of making physician licenses either more portable (license portability) or much easier to acquire in additional states once acquired the first time–a key stumbling block in telemedicine that looks to provide aid to rural areas that are often closer to medical service areas in a bordering state. It’s also been a key issue in overcoming the increasing physician shortage in general.

The seventh, and triggering state, was Alabama, followed almost immediately by Minnesota on the same day. On May 27th, Nevada followed suit, making the number of participation states nine. The other states are Idaho, Montana, South Dakota, Utah, West Virginia, and Wyoming–notably rural states that would benefit immensely by the Compact’s success.

The commission is expected to meet later this year. For more information on the Instate Medical Licensure Compact, please visit http://licenseportability.org/.

Preparing Big Stuff for HIMSS 2015

swyMed at HIMSS 2015 booth 7164

I admit it’s been too long since I last posted here. Well, I have an excuse…

We’ve been busy getting ready for the HIMSS and ATA 2015 conferences. We’re very excited to be going because we believe this is the year swyMed really makes its presence known in the healthcare space.

At HIMSS we will be introducing some very special technology for home health use as well as new partnerships that will make the deployment and delivery of healthcare even easier. Read more

New York Telehealth

New York joins the Telemedicine Party…er, Parity

New York Telehealth

Making a momentous step forward, last week New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed into law a bill requiring private insurers to cover telehealth and telemedicine coverage, retroactive to January 1st, 2015 (Happy New Year!).

That was not a redundant sentence: New York has differentiated between telehealth and telemedicine in the bill, with the primary difference being that telemedicine must include Read more

Maybe You Can get Reimbursed for That…

Treasure In Paper

Last week I posted a press release from the ATA about expanded Medicare coverage for Telemedicine.  Well, I decided to actually read the 1200 page rulemaking from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).  You can guess why it’s taken a week to write a follow up article…

Actually, no.  I didn’t read the entire rulemaking, only the pages relevant to all things “tele” in medicine and healthcare.  In doing so, I was reminded of something interesting:

There are a number of procedures already covered by Medicare without specific telemedicine codes.  In fact, of the seven bullet points listing the 22 codes rejected or deleted from inclusion, five noted the affected codes were largely unnecessary due to either an existing telehealth code or because Medicare does not distinguish whether the procedure is tele or not.

Here are a few examples:

Regarding electrocardiograms and echocardiograms: “By definition, Read more

ATA Celebrates Halloween Telemedicine Treats for Medicare Beneficiaries

WASHINGTON – Saturday, Nov. 1, 2014 — Yesterday, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued a rulemaking that includes significant additional coverage for telemedicine services.

“This Halloween, Medicare beneficiaries got an important treat for home care of chronic care management, remote patient monitoring of chronic conditions, and other services when provided via telehealth,” said Jonathan Linkous, CEO of the American Telemedicine Association. The association has been asking CMS for such coverage for over five years.

Buried in an almost 1200-page rulemaking about 2015 Medicare payments to physicians and practitioners were provisions paying for remote chronic care management using a new current procedural terminology (CPT) code, 99490, with a monthly unadjusted, non-facility fee of $42.60. Also, Medicare will pay for remote-patient monitoring of chronic conditions with a monthly unadjusted, non-facility fee of $56.92 using CPT code 99091. Prior to this, Medicare did not pay separately for such services, requiring that such billing be bundled with an “evaluation and management” code.

Also in the rulemaking were seven new covered procedure codes for telehealth including annual wellness visits, psychotherapy services, and prolonged services in the office.

“It has been a long time coming, but this rulemaking signals a clear and bold step in the right direction for Medicare,” added Linkous. “This allows providers to use telemedicine technology to improve the cost and quality of healthcare delivery.”

Read the full document here: http://www.regulations.gov/#!documentDetail;D=CMS-2014-0094-2363. To learn more about telemedicine and public policy, visit http://www.americantelemed.org/policy/overview-news.

About the American Telemedicine Association

The American Telemedicine Association is the leading international resource and advocate promoting the use of advanced remote medical technologies. ATA and its diverse membership work to fully integrate telemedicine into healthcare systems to improve quality, equity and affordability of healthcare throughout the world. Established in 1993, ATA is headquartered in Washington, DC. For more information visit www.americantelemed.org.

Media Contact:
Mimi Hubbard
mhubbard@americantelemed.org
202-659-7616

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An Open Letter and Call To Action to the Telemedicine Industry

 

reimbursement boulder in road crop

“Is your cucumber bitter? Throw it away. Are there briars in your path? Turn aside. That is enough.”
Marcus Aurelius, Meditations.

For an industry full of innovators, there’s a distinct lack of innovation in overcoming the reimbursement issue.  I believe this is largely because we’ve trained ourselves to continue focusing on reimbursement, rather than discovering how to make the lack of reimbursement work for us or on creating a new model of telemedicine that makes reimbursement an afterthought.

If you believe telemedicine won’t expand until reimbursement is solved, why are any of us involved in Telemedicine?  (I assume it’s to improve healthcare, which means we shouldn’t let reimbursement stop us.)

This is not to say that reimbursement is not impo Read more