Tag Archives: telemedicine

Why Telemedicine Has Failed

telemedicine consult

Telemedicine, the use of technology for remote patient monitoring and medical consultations, is experiencing growing pains in the U.S. It’s a logical response to ballooning healthcare expenditures and an ever-increasing physician availability shortage. Integrated with patient portals, patient engagement mobile apps, remote patient monitoring software and health tracking apps, telemedicine is also part of a growing market for patient engagement solutions.

However, going virtual with healthcare has not been straightforward, and has taken longer than anyone would have expected. For telemedicine to reach its potential, we need to address lags in adoption, privacy concerns, and health policy barriers.

Adoption: Generating Physician Buy-In

There are many private companies that specialize in telemedicine, such as virtual care applications or 24-hour “ask a doctor” services. The other option is a physician who has regular appointments also checking in with patients remotely via a telemedicine portal or a similar application. In this case, many physicians don’t want to change how they do medicine. For a successful transition to a hybrid format, first and foremost, the reimbursement must be there. Reasonable reimbursement for telemedicine is still mostly limited to certain states and is simply not enticing enough to drive telemedicine. A perfect example of this would be the use of chronic care management solutions for CPT code 99490 – which has seen unexpectedly low utilization. The evidence that telemedicine and patient engagement improves outcomes is still lacking as well.

Adoption: Developing Accessible Patient Engagement Solutions

Patients with chronic conditions that require frequent check-ins has a tremendous amount of potential to benefit from telemedicine. Older and typically less tech-savvy seniors are now surprisingly proficient with technology. For example, it may be hard for them to connect or use remote patient monitoring devices between office visits. On-screen interaction may not be easy for those with limited vision. This makes it difficult to engage patients. These obstacles can be overcome with accessible technologies, and health IT professionals should focus on this.

Privacy: HIPAA Compliant Remote Patient Monitoring and Consultation

In telemedicine, personal health information is sent in several ways, including text, audio, video, images, and real-time remote patient data from sensors. This worries healthcare providers, who need to comply with HIPAA privacy rules. While the tools we use daily may not meet standards (video, email, SMS) there are specialized platforms out there that do, the Bridge Patient Portal platform being one of them. These are essential to best practices in telemedicine.

Policy: Taking Advantage of in Interstate Licensing

States have different requirements about where a physician needs to be licensed to provide telemedicine services: In some cases, it’s the state where the practice is located. In others, it’s the state where the patient is located. Over twenty-six states have now introduced or enacted Interstate Medical Licensure Compact legislation, which will make it easier for physicians to practice in several states. As more states join, medical practices may need to be guided on how to get their healthcare teams licensed.

Policy: Addressing Different Reimbursement Rules Across States

Reimbursement is another area of inconsistency: Rules about which telemedicine services need to be covered by Medicare, Medicaid, and private insurance vary from state to state. This is being considered at the federal level. In the meantime, healthcare providers need easy access to centralized, up-to-date information on relevant policies.

By harnessing our society’s tech habits to engage patients and help physicians do their jobs better, telemedicine has lots of potential. At this stage, it faces roadblocks like privacy concerns and policy red tape. It’s important to equip healthcare providers with resources for navigating these issues. On the product end, we need to develop technologies that make telemedicine accessible and effective for both physicians and patients.

Bridge Leverages HIPAA Compliant Technology for eConsultations

eConsultations

With goods and services increasingly moving online – and with patients prioritizing other factors besides just quality care – it has become a necessity for healthcare organizations to start looking for new ways to improve the overall patient experience. Video consultations are one such solution, and they are gaining traction quickly in the healthcare space. In fact, web companies such as Teladoc, Doctor on Demand and American Well were expected to host some 1.2 million such virtual doctor visits in 2016, up 20% from 2015, according to the American Telemedicine Association. A report by IHS takes this one step further and predicts that the the U.S market alone will perform 5.4 million video consultations in the year 2020.

As part of Bridge Patient Portal’s commitment to helping healthcare organizations enhance patient care and increase revenue, we offer a secure, HIPAA-compliant eConsultation platform. Our platform is designed to bridge the gap between doctors and patients by providing high quality communication without requiring users to download additional software or install plugins. It presents an opportunity for healthcare organizations to improve treatment outcomes and deliver more efficient care by meeting patients where they are. The types of communication available in our platform are the following:

  • Telephone calls: Patients inform their provider of their availability and provide a phone number where they can be reached for the call. The provider will contact them at that time via the patient portal.
  • Secure messaging: Patients have the ability to message their providers in real time all within the confines of the portal. Communication may only be initiated by the physician or office staff, but patients can respond.
  • Video Consultation: While not a standard feature of the platform, Bridge does have the ability to utilize different video consultation technologies. WebRTC is an example of a technology that can be used to facilitate video consultations via the portal.

By integrating different communication technologies into our platform, we are able to provide a cost-effective solution for healthcare providers to deliver the best experience possible to their patients. We also ensure that all communication that takes place on our platform is HIPAA compliant, for example, WebRTC encrypts media streams with 128-bit Advanced Encryption Standards.

When it comes to billing, our healthcare platform can be customized to suit your needs and preferences. You can choose to set an eConsultation rate for phone calls, or set up a pre-pay credit system for patients to use towards online consults. Your patients’ credit card information can be kept on file, and billed before or after their visit.

To learn more about our platforms highly secure, eConsultation feature and how it can benefit your organization, call us at 866-838-9455

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