Prioritize Patients

prioritize patients

I attended a webinar last week where the speaker, Jeff Robbins, Director of Neurodiagnostics and Telehealth at Tift Regional Medical Center, recounted the following (paraphrased) story:

Eight years ago Tift had purchased their first batch of telemedicine equipment.  For the first year or so they mostly stared at it, with no idea how to go about using it.

They wondered whether they could be reimbursed for anything they used it for and whether they could figure out how to use it and wondered what it could do.  They weren’t using their equipment.  They weren’t using telemedicine.

Then Jeff said they decided to “put the patients first.”  They purposefully forgot about reimbursement, coverage regulations, computer abilities of the doctors, or whether the possible uses fit into the business plan of the hospital.  They focused on finding out, through actually doing it, if telemedicine could help their patients.  When that happened…

All those things took care of themselves.

Or, as Jeff put Read more

5 Things I Learned on ATA’s This Month in Telemedicine Webinar

As with last month, this is largely geared to updates about legislation along with reminders about the upcoming Fall Forum conference in Palm Springs, CA, which I’ll have to consider as I live out Orange County.

This month’s takeaways are a little more subdued than last month which had some pretty big news (see here).  The ATA had just done a survey on online consultations and had over 500 respondents.

1)  45% of respondents are using telemedicine TODAY.  This is fantastic news and, in my mind, is possibly underreported because, as Mr. Linkous and Mr. Capistrant pointed out on the last call (and pointed out in our 3 Things from last month), nearly every institution is already using some form of telemedicine and the boards don’t realize it.

2)  Specialty Care and Behavioral Health were the leading segments.  Not terribly surprising, as specialty care often needs to use leading edge tools to leverage resources for special care, and behavioral health lends itself well to an old-school videoconferencing set up (patient and doctor meet via video), leading to less push-back on its use while providing maximum benefit to both patients and providers.  The industry will have to really work, I think, to make sure providers and CDOs are aware of the more specialized applications and the benefits to be had.  Telemedice will not yield a large harvest if we only pick the low-hanging fruit.  As if to prove that point:

3)  77% use video, 57% use audio and 28% use medical peripherals.  Just over a quarter are using peripherals, while three times that are using video.  Being at a video-primary solution provider: Yay!  Being a proponent of telemedicine as a whole: We can do better.  Even the video-primary medical solutions offer a lot of specialized or integrated offerings that provide more than just adding a visual element to distance care.  Again, the question is, how do we get this to the doctors and CDOs?

4) Of the 55% of respondents that replied they are not using telemedicine today, 75% plan to implement it very soon.  I present that as Exhibit A to the tipping point naysayers…although I concede that if you responded to a survey about telemedicine from the American Telemedicine Association, you’re probably already predisposed to an interest in telemedicine.  Having said that, interest in telemedicine has been on the rise, and 75% of that growing crowd being interested in giving it a shot can only be a good thing.

4)  Mr. Linkous pointed out something toward the end that I assumed would be a primary driver (or at least remove an obstacle) but assumed would take several more years:  Private insurance is increasingly taking the lead in pushing telemedicine.  I’ve been noting that the reduced cost/better outcome/reduced readmissions scenario HAS to eventually turn private insurance into champions of telemedicine.  Amongst the names he mentioned were Kaiser Permanente, Aetna, WellPoint, and others.

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Telemedicine Reimbursement vs. Decreased Readmissions

readmission

The question of reimbursement is very, very important. But not as important as you might think.  As promised a couple weeks ago, we want to look more in depth at the third of our takeaways from the 2014 American Telehealth Conference…especially in light of new developments that have popped up in the news since then.

First, to  bring new readers up  …read more…

3 Things I learned on the ATA Webinar

I wonder if this might become a monthly feature?  After all, the ATA webinar I’m talking about was titled: This Month in Telemedicine.

I won’t go into great detail about legislation and such.  For that, I highly recommend the replay which can be found here.

The three items I’d like to look at are:

1.  The FDA has released draft guidance for devices for review and comment.  It can be found here.  What’s notable is …read more…

Past the Tipping Point

tipping point

Last Thursday I promised to discuss our takeaways from the ATA conference individually in more detail, starting with

#1 We’re past the tipping point.

I won’t belabor the point of the overall importance of this takeaway, as you can read about it here.  However, I will re-quote ATA CEO Jonathan Linkous because his numbers make a good launching point: “Today, 20 million Americans get some part of their healthcare remotely, and that number will grow as telemedicine expands its reach.”  And the ATA President, Edward Brown, believes that mHealth/Telemedicine will grow by 50% every year.

According to a study by IHS Technology and published in January, the almost 350,000 telehealth patients in 2013 will swell to Read more

3 Takeaways from ATA 2014

ATA takeaways

Yes, we’re perhaps a little late with this posting.  However, we think the key takeaways (for us) from this year’s ATA  (American Telemedicine Association) conference are important enough to immortalize anyway.

#1 We’re past the tipping point.

This was such a key point that the ATA itself made sure to quote a speaker mentioning it before the conference even started:

Speaker Joe Peterson, CEO of Specialists on Call, said: “In 2013 telemedicine started passing many ‘tipping points,’ in multiple industry segments, making it a true moment in time to found, scale …read more…

Telepsychiatry Cuts Hospital Admissions and Saves Money

I TOLD YOU SO!

veamea_telepsychiatry-resized-600

Almost 4 months ago, I wrote that TelePsychiatry is the Killer App for Video Conferencing.  It may put a kink in Lucy’s walk-in practice, but the benefits to the rest of society are clear.  (And if Lucy would like to Expand Her Presence, there is a place she can go)

Who should come along to back me up, but the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP).  Their July 2011 issue of ACEP News includes an article titled “ED Telepsychiatry Cuts Admissions, Saves Money.”

The article tells the story of implementations in South Carolina and includes a commentary by the vice chair for Emergency Medicine at Lehigh Valley Hospital in Pennsylvania where a telepsychiatry program is also in place.

The following data are from the South Carolina study:

  • Admission rates (33% lower)
  • Length of Emergency Department stays (25% shorter)
  • Outpatient follow-up rates (nearly 4x higher)
  • Cost (29% lower for Medicaid patients, 38% lower for private insurance)
  • Patient satisfaction: 80%
  • Physician Satisfaction: 90%
  • Physicians who believe they are more productive using telepsychiatry: 75%

Per the study, “the patient receives a higher quality of care, and the hospitals have reduced costs.”

WHAT’S NOT TO LIKE ?

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6 Learnings from the American Telemedicine Association Annual

VeaMea (now swy|me) visited the American Telemedicine Association Annual Conference in Tampa this past week.  It was an interesting conference with thousands of participants, and hundreds of vendors.

We had some interesting conversations with people who are, or are going to be, practicing Telemedicine as well as a variety of support organizations.

Here are a few highlights:

  • Rural Healthcare Telecom Subsidies — The Universal Services Fund has $400 million in telecom subsidies to give away each year.  They have only been Read more