rural road leads to distant mountains

USDA Announces Grants for Rural Telemedicine

On November 19, in honor of National Rural Health Day, the U.S. Department of Agriculture bestowed $23.4 million in awards to expand rural telemedicine and mental health services, as well as distance education, for 75 projects in 31 states. The grants will help increase access to health care in rural areas with a shortage of providers for emergency medical care, routine examinations, virtual rounds, behavioral health services, and specialty services. Read more

Mobile health is here to stay!

Mobile Health: Patients Want It All

When it comes to combining personal health with the convenience of mobile devices, what do smartphone users really want? A recent study suggests that people want to be fully engaged online, including accessing their health records and communicating with their healthcare providers—all from their phones and tablets. It’s a great idea in theory, but can everything actually fit into one application? Read more

sick girl laying in hospital bed

Mobile Video Conferencing Brings Virtual Visits to Intensive Care

The MassGeneral Hospital for Children Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) has found two intriguing uses for mobile video conferencing: comforting anxious families and consulting physicians at home.

Sometimes, parents can’t be at their child’s bedside. While the hospital strives to make visiting family members comfortable with in-room beds and desks, they help reduce absent parents’ anxiety by loaning them tablet devices. With secure mobile video conferencing, parents can see, hear, and interact with their children, physicians, and nurses—in essence, “being there” without actually being there. Read more

Man using laptop for telemedicine

Telemedicine for Parkinson’s Patients May Increase Compliance, Care

Telemedicine has been making headlines for facilitating timely stroke treatment and increasing access to care in rural areas, but other specialties are finding substantial benefits, too. This summer, preliminary results from a randomized clinical trial of telemedicine for Parkinson’s patients were released; these initial findings look very promising. Read more

Dr. warning to avoid telemedicine strategy pitfalls

Watch Out for These Telemedicine Strategy Pitfalls

If your practice has been waiting for the right time to embrace a telemedicine strategy, the wait is over. Telemedicine is no longer a brand-new, untested experiment—it’s used in over half of all U.S. hospitals, according to the American Telemedicine Association. Reimbursement is expanding, with Medicare, Medicaid, and private insurance plans coming on board in various states. And with the Affordable Care Act encouraging cost-effective, results-driven models of care, it’s a great time to transform your practice with a robust telemedicine program.

However, as with any endeavor, careful planning will help your goals become a reality. As you map out your telemedicine strategy, watch out for these three common pitfalls: Read more

stethoscope laying on keyboard

Establishing Telemedicine as a Tool through Legislation

As we face a future filled with increasing health care needs and a predicted shortage of physicians, it becomes clear that the old paradigm of medicine—namely, time-consuming office visits—will no longer suffice. Newer technologies, such as telemedicine, have the ability to address these needs by offering high-quality, cost-effective, and time-efficient care—but only if we allow it.

Unfortunately, science and patient demands evolve more quickly than legislation, and our current structure is hindering a more widespread and effective use of telemedicine. Read more

Senior woman and caregiver

The Benefits of Telemedicine in Long-Term Care Facilities

In recent years, telemedicine has received a lot of attention for increasing access to healthcare in rural areas. However, there’s another population, often overlooked, that can benefit greatly from this evolving technology: residents of long-term care facilities. These patients also experience reduced accessibility to healthcare due to transportation issues or being homebound thanks to illness or injury, and their hospital readmissions are raising cost concerns among facilities. By implementing telemedicine in long-term care, we can address both challenges with one solution. Read more

"Telemedicine kiosk here" sign

Telemedicine Kiosks Bring Doctor Consults to Workplaces and Retail Locations

For common ailments—such as earaches, rashes, or sprains—is a visit to the doctor really necessary? Thanks to telemedicine kiosks, the answer may soon be a resounding “No.”

In recent months, telemedicine kiosks have begun appearing across the country in pilot programs. These self-contained booths are bringing doctor consults into retail pharmacies, workplaces, and even city halls, making it easier and cheaper for individuals to receive health care for non-emergency needs, especially during nights and weekends. Read more

Telemed doctor using tablet

Who Wants to Be a Telemed Doctor?

Patients in rural areas and with limited transportation may welcome telemedicine, but what about the doctors?

It appears that physicians everywhere are also embracing this technology. A recent nationwide poll, conducted by QuantiaMD and American Well, reveals that 57 percent of primary care physicians are interested and willing to conduct telemedicine visits with their patients (1).

To better understand this response, let’s examine the context. As revealed by the survey, doctors are spending increasing time on non-reimbursable phone and email communications with patients. The average family doctor devotes nearly 4 hours per week on phone calls and emails, and each phone call alone costs roughly $20 of the physician’s time.

In this situation, it makes sense to replace non-reimbursable activities with billable telemedicine hours. Read more

Schoolboy with sore throat

Telemedicine in Schools Makes It Harder to Play Hooky

With the rapid growth of telemedicine, missing school to see the doctor may soon be unheard of.

Thanks to a grant, Burke County Public Schools will implement Health-e-Schools program this fall. This initiative, offered by North Carolina’s Center for Rural Health Innovation, is being funded by a $701,207 grant from the Duke Endowment Grant Project.

The grant was earmarked for rural areas with less access to healthcare than urban regions. By introducing telemedicine in schools, the program will make it easier and faster for students to receive care. The goal of the initiative is to extend the reach of primary care physicians, rather than replace them. Read more