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News, Information and Updates on Hardware and IT Tools to help improve your Medical practice
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What is involved in telemedicine and how much does it cost? 

What is involved in telemedicine and how much does it cost?  | IT Support and Hardware for Clinics | Scoop.it

Now that the use of telemedicine is surging to an all-time high, organizations can easily get lost in implementing the technology just to stay on top of the latest and greatest, but it is easy to get lost in the vast amount of telemedicine technology and equipment options available.

If you are researching your telemedicine options, applying for a grant or just need to put your budget plans together, here are six key elements and associated costs for you to consider.

1. Medical Devices for Specialties

The specific medical devices you need may vary depending on the specialties you plan to serve with telemedicine. The good news is you don't need to have all the answers right away because many equipment providers have scalable and modular telemedicine systems. This means you can purchase just what you need to get started and then add additional devices later on as your program expands into additional specialties. 

The cost of medical devices for basic primary care services can range from $5,000-$10,000, and this would include devices such as an examination camera, ENT scope and digital stethoscope.

2. Communication Platform and Video Conferencing Needs

How you plan to manage the patient-to-remote encounter is also a key component to consider for clinical telemedicine applications. Since you are communicating a patient's critical diagnostic data, the optimal choice is to do it securely and in real time. After all, the beauty of telemedicine is the functionality to have a live interaction between a patient and a remote specialist.

 

AMD Telemedicine recommends using a Web-based encounter management portal to communicate and aggregate medical device data and share it live with the remote physician. This is truly the best way to offer telemedicine services that are as close to an in-person visit as possible. For video conferencing, it is best to first evaluate any video conferencing investments your organization might have already made to see if these can be leveraged for your current application. Many times they integrate seamlessly with encounter management platforms.

Depending on your video conferencing needs, you can complement a Web-based telemedicine portal with either software- or hardware-based video conferencing. To go the software-based route can cost as little as $1,500 per patient site with no cost for the remote provider. The cost for hardware-based video conferencing can start around $10,000 per patient site and increases with the number of remote provider sites you need.

3. Packaging Design and Mobility

Telemedicine carts, cases, wall mounts and other equipment are all just various ways to package the telemedicine hardware and software. Although there is a difference in how aesthetically pleasing they are (or are not), the main thing to keep in mind is whether this packaging will fulfill your intended use, not just now but also in the near future.

Ideally, you want a telemedicine cart or case that is modular and can be easily configured for additional medical specialties so it can evolve with your program. For some applications, such as school-based health centers or long-term care facilities, it is helpful to select a telemedicine system that is an all-in-one package. This helps streamline the purchasing, maintenance, and support for those that don't have a dedicated IT team for their telemedicine programs. All-in-one telemedicine systems that include the telemedicine software, primary care medical devices and the mobile cart/case can range from $20,000 to upward of $28,000.

4. Bandwidth and Internet Connection Recommendations

You may be pleased to know that you don't need to invest in a significant infrastructure overhaul to make telemedicine a reality for your clinic. Of course, your specific needs will vary depending on factors such as location and size or your organization, but the most important consideration is not how much bandwidth you need, but rather how reliable and consistent your bandwidth is.

The most common Internet connections are shared with others, which can cause the upload and download speeds to lag and be interrupted at busy times. So finding a reputable Internet service provider with a commitment to reliable service is the first step. If possible, purchase a business-grade service so you experience a more consistent bandwidth capability to ensure your real-time data is not interrupted or compromised in any way.

5. Training

You already staff your organization or practice with top-notch doctors and nurses, so the next step is to provide these healthcare professionals with the skills and knowledge they need to best make use of your new telemedicine technology in daily operations.

Fortunately, clinical telemedicine equipment training isn't a complicated need to meet, especially if your staff has any familiarity with basic medical devices and modern communication technology. There are two types of training programs to ensure the long-term success of clinical telemedicine programs: user training for clinicians and nurses, and technical training and installation for the IT staff. Training programs like these can range from $200 to $2,000 per site depending on the complexity of equipment, a number of users and other factors. Additionally, the American Telemedicine Association is a fantastic resource for training and education.

6. Support

Finally, the increased reliance on network connectivity and Internet technology at your office means that you'll need to ensure that you have adequate IT staff support. This is likely more of a concern for smaller practices that may not have an in-house IT department. It's a good idea to talk to your telemedicine vendor to determine if it provides installation services, as well as what technical support options are available if you don't have an IT staff of your own.

Navigating the waters of telemedicine can be much easier with the help of industry experts working alongside you and your clinic's employees.

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Cloud Computing Supports Telemedicine Growth

Cloud Computing Supports Telemedicine Growth | IT Support and Hardware for Clinics | Scoop.it

Today’s healthcare professionals enjoy convenient access to a multitude of tools that would have amazed previous generations. Unfortunately, lack of awareness or access to technical experts means that many practices are unable or unwilling to take advantage of the latest technological advances, advances that increase efficiency, security and productivity. Others are intimidated by the technical jargon often associated with eHealth. All that is needed to eliminate all these issues is a partnership with a provider that specialises in the health industry, rather than deal with IT companies that are themselves unwilling to recommend healthcare-specific solutions that they are unfamiliar with

Providers of healthcare solutions are familiar with the inner workings of practices and clinics and can easily review existing processes and recommend solutions that will integrate technology in the best possible manner. They will also support any new technological solutions, leaving medical professionals more time for patient care, which will ultimately provide substantial benefits that aid early diagnosis and prolong lives.

 

Providers without healthcare knowledge will recommend solutions that they are familiar with, ones that are normally selected by traditional commercial enterprises. Such solutions are generally unsuitable for healthcare clinics and practices and often require expensive customisation, assuming that they can even be customised sufficiently to meet existing regulations.
Smaller clinics and practices do not have an on-site IT team and often eliminate IT requirements by automating server maintenance, data backups and archiving using a cloud solution. In such a scenario, it is the provider that is responsible for all of these activities.

 

Telemedicine allows easier collaboration and involves the use of mobile or other internet-enabled devices. Advantages include instant videoconferencing, remote consults, immediate access to electronic health records and the elimination of geographical issues, where patients are unable to visit the practice or clinic in person. These collaborative features are used between medical teams in multiple locations, between mobile clinics and their headquarters and of course can be used by any medical professional on the move.

 

When cloud services are used, connectivity is possible from anywhere a broadband signal is present, whether to a PC or portable device. This is ideal for patients in remote are rural areas and eliminates the time and expense necessary to consult with a specialist in the traditional manner. With videoconferencing, for example, no travel is required yet an excellent service is provided by the healthcare professional involved. Even follow-ups are possible online. Security concerns are also eliminated as a travelling professional accesses data remotely and never stores it on their own personal devices.

 

There are additional cloud benefits for healthcare professionals and these include:
• Scalability – you pay for the amount of space you use and it can be increased on demand
• Automatic updates – the provider’s IT team install security patches promptly
• Disaster recovery – automated regular backups take place and are restored when active data is lost
• Redundancy – multiple broadband connections are available. When one fails, another takes over
• Flexibility – if additional bandwidth is needed, it is readily available. This is not possible with traditional networks
• Works from anywhere – an internet-ready device, a 3G or broadband connection and you are good to go
• Collaboration – depending on requirements, there are specific software applications available to aid collaboration between team members and patients
• Document management – a single document repository allows secure and controlled access to confidential information
• Security – the use of the cloud ensures data is never stored in portable devices, given that thousands are lost or stolen every year
• Green-tech – the carbon footprint for each practice or clinic is substantially reduced, with cloud servers using less power per client due to virtualisation technology
• Cost savings – every clinic and practice uses the latest in hardware and software technology but without the initial investment. Ongoing IT maintenance costs are also dramatically reduced

When it comes to telemedicine, in addition to data management and document control features, there are software applications available that maximise patient turnover per clinic, improve patient care and even improve follow-up treatment and remote monitoring processes.

 

With benefits of this magnitude and with evolving regulations to embrace technological advances in eHealth, clinics need to install a telemedicine solution sooner rather than later or give competitive advantage to those that adopt now. This is especially true if patients and colleagues are in other geographical areas. In fact, government services are already active for eligible aged-care homes and to patients of Aboriginal Medical Services throughout Australia.

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How are college curriculums including telemedicine? 

How are college curriculums including telemedicine?  | IT Support and Hardware for Clinics | Scoop.it

As the use of telemedicine continues to increase in the health care workplace, it's important for medical schools to educate students on telehealth technologies before they are placed in the working world. Adding telemedicine to basic curriculum will give potential doctors, nurses and other health care professionals the skills and knowledge they need to make it in the every-changing industry.

Here are a few examples of universities that are staying ahead of the game, educating their students on telemedicine technologies and best practices:

NYIT College of Medicine

According to Becker's Hospital Review, the New York Institute of Technology College of Osteopathetic Medicine on the campus of Arkansas State University is adding telemedicine education to the first-year curriculum. Darren Sommer, DO, telemedicine assistant professor told Region 8 News that teaching students telehealth practices early on will prepare them properly for their future in the health care industry.

"If we continue to introduce medical students into the practice of medicine but don't include telemedicine, when they finally get into practice and they're acting as attending physicians they will not be prepared to deliver telemedicine services and they will be foreign to that," he said, according to Becker's Hospital Review.

College of Medicine at Chicago

Students who attend the College of Medicine at Chicago at the University of Illinois participate in the Telemedicine in Practice Curriculum, a five-module program that was designed to help students become more familiar with telehealth technologies. In this program, students will learn from multimedia lessons, interactive learning activities, simulated patient encounters and real-time patient care via telemedicine.

Texas Women's University and Old Dominion University

Both universities have introduced telemedicine programs into their curriculum to initiate delivering care in rural settings and underserved populations. By using AMD Global Telemedicine's clinical telemedicine programs, Texas Women's University and Old Dominion University are helping students prepare for the future of health care by teaching them how telemedicine provides efficient, coordinated care. Students are being trained on how to use the equipment, but they're also learning how the technology can leverage patient care and quality.

"AMD's clinical telemedicine system is the perfect complement to the curriculum we offer in the area of telehealth," said Dr. Mari Tietze, associate professor at Texas Woman's University. "Our telehealth electives are open to nursing, occupational health, physical therapy, nutrition, and health system management/business students. It is a great platform for them to understand how teams can collaborate and manage patients remotely."

Telehealth technology is the future of health care, so it's vital for universities to follow telemedicine curriculum practices. Learn more about some of the telemedicine systems AMD Global Telemedicine has to offer.

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Telehealth Essential Resource Addiction Treatment

Telehealth Essential Resource Addiction Treatment | IT Support and Hardware for Clinics | Scoop.it

In a recent article in The Atlantic, the former head of the National Institutes of Mental Health, psychiatrist Tom Insel, pinned the future progress of mental healthcare on one small but transformative piece of technology: the smartphone. Insel is reportedly convinced that “the smartphone can be a diagnostic instrument and, through the links it gives us to others, a life-saving mode of connection and treatment.”

 

Insel is on to something—and, as an addiction clinician, I am persuaded that telehealth initiatives (like smartphone apps) can also be an essential, life-saving resource for the substance abuse population. Proper legal and ethical training is key for therapists who plan to offer telehealth services, but that extra effort can have powerful results.

 

First, addiction’s chronic nature makes ongoing assessment and regular follow-up critical factors in effective care—for those in early recovery especially. Accumulated research has shown that like other chronic diseases, SUDs can be characterized by relapse, and rates of relapse tend to be highest during the first year following treatment. Yet outcomes are better among those who make regular and more frequent use of a supportive network in their recovery (such as ongoing individual therapy among others).

Inevitably, the ease and convenience with which these supports can be accessed are therefore crucial. Many of the clients who leave my care go back to full-time jobs, parenting roles and other responsibilities (including recovery commitments like weekly 12-step group attendance). Many clients return to areas of the country where therapists like myself are in overwhelmingly high demand but painfully short supply. Even in clinically well-resourced regions of the country, addiction therapists tend to carry heavy caseloads, and burnout remains a common feature of the SUD treatment landscape.

 

Such factors can often preclude regular, in-person follow-ups with a therapist—even when the long-term support and accountability these sessions provide may be critical to recovery (depending on the client and their treatment needs). The reality is that the necessary demands of life can dampen even the most dedicated commitment to follow-up therapy. There’s little utility to seeing a therapist weekly if it means you can’t hold down a job, after all (especially when job retention itself tends to support long-term recovery). On the other hand, virtual therapy apps like Talkspace make it easier and more convenient to keep in regular, even frequent touch with a therapist.

 

Telehealth also provides near-instant support for a disease that, unlike any other chronic disease, is distinguished by cravings. When left to their own devices (without immediate intervention), these compulsive desires to drink or use drugs can often drive and precede relapse. They also don’t always follow therapist work hours or take the same vacation days. A craving may strike in the middle of the night or on the weekend, at which point the more old-fashioned method—of leaving a voicemail for one’s therapist—proves useless.

 

That’s where videoconferencing and instant text messaging are part of the solution, as are innovative apps like the A-CHESS mobile app. The app provides users with a “panic button” for when cravings hit. Press it and presto: within a matter of minutes, users can access help and support that is individually customized to their needs.

 

But telehealth is probably most urgently needed as a bridge to treatment for the millions of Americans who would never darken the door of a therapist’s office because of the enduring stigma of substance abuse. That stigma is arguably worse in rural and underserved areas, where an in-person appointment with the only therapist in town likely means you’ll run into your next-door neighbor or a familiar business patron. Videoconferencing apps that allow clients to connect with a properly trained therapist in a secure, online meeting room from the privacy of their own home provide that assurance of anonymity. For many with SUDs, that’s a non-negotiable prerequisite to getting help and beginning the journey to recovery.

 

Candice Rasa, LCSW, is Clinical Director of Beach House Center for Recovery, a drug and alcohol addiction rehabilitation center in Juno Beach, FL. She has more than 10 years’ experience in the mental health and substance-abuse arena, and supports healing in the clients she serves from a solution-focused, strengths-based approach.

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8 Amazing Ways Telemedicine Is Changing Healthcare

8 Amazing Ways Telemedicine Is Changing Healthcare | IT Support and Hardware for Clinics | Scoop.it

Not everyone has access to good healthcare. Telemedicine increasingly serves as the bridge across the access gap, providing service solutions in a wide variety of specialties, and in unexpected ways.  Telehealth practitioners provide clinical services to patients by making use of electronic communications, specifically common voice and video technology. Services might occur via teleconferencing, image sharing, or remote patient monitoring. Here are 8 amazing ways telemedicine is changing healthcare:

1. DIAGNOSIS AND TREATMENT OF STROKE

According to research carried out in Georgia, stroke patients who went to a hospital that is part of a telestroke network received treatment 20 minutes faster than those in hospitals outside the network. Because a stroke victim has an increased rate of survival in proportion to the speed of diagnosis and treatment, early treatment is crucial. Fortunately, this is exactly what telemedicine makes possible.

2. INTENSIVE CARE UNIT (ICU) MONITORING

Telemedicine provides great support within the ICU. It functions mainly to help physicians and nurses maintain their focus amid the myriad distractions that arise in a hospital. As a result, practitioners follow procedures for keeping proper track of a patient’s medication, monitoring blood pressure, and so on more consistently and effectively.

3. POST-DISCHARGE REHABILITATION

Telemedicine now helps with discharged patients as they undergo their rehabilitation at home. This is a great help considering how challenging it can be for rehabilitating patients to travel to healthcare facilities. The primary use of telemedicine in this context is allowing patients to participate in online education groups.

4. REDUCTION OF HEART DISEASE RISKS

To buck the trend of deaths as a result of cardiovascular diseases, patients must work closely with doctors for help in the areas of losing weight, quitting smoking, and so on. Through telelemedicine, patients can eliminate the hassle of frequently going to a doctor’s office. Patients are happy to go online to send and receive information from their healthcare provider, and generally find it much more convenient and efficient than a typical office visit.

5. DIABETES MONITORING

Diabetes patients benefit a great deal from telemedicine. It is easier to track a patient’s calorie intake, monitor medication and doses, and log workouts, among other things, with the help of mobile technology. Among groups of diabetic patients, older adults see the most advantage from the incorporation of telemedicine to their treatment and monitoring.

6. MANAGEMENT OF CHRONIC CONDITIONS

There are various long-term chronic conditions that can make good use of patient self-management, now possible through telemedicine. Hypertension and some varieties of digestive-related diseases are examples of such conditions. In cases like these, utilizing telemedicine for patient management reduces the number of inpatient visits the patients need to make and improves patient management.

7. ACCESS TO ORAL HEALTH SERVICES

Telemedicine improves dentistry access and services by allowing dentists to share information. As a result, specialists can recommend solutions before a condition worsens and results in excessive costs. This process is particularly helpful to those in rural areas.

8. DERMATOLOGY CONSULTATIONS

Dermatology is another area of medicine that embraces telemedicine. Patients with skin problems now can send an image of their skin to a direct dermatologist, along with their health history, and receive a determination in two days. This saves patients the inconvenience of constant referrals from one specialist to another.

Telemedicine enhances healthcare in many ways, and has made navigating healthcare easier for practitioners and their patients. Give CIS a call to find out how telemedicine can improve and expand the services you provide!

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What is Digital Imaging and Communication in Medicine (DICOM) and how does it work?

What is Digital Imaging and Communication in Medicine (DICOM) and how does it work? | IT Support and Hardware for Clinics | Scoop.it

When it comes to transferring digital images for telemedicine diagnostic purposes, it is important to adhere to the correct protocols. As the explosion of digital imaging technology has continued, so too has the improvement of standards and protocols.


A standard for communications among medical imaging devices has been set by the National Electronic Manufacturers Association (NEMA) in conjunction with the American College of Radiology since 1985.

 

The DICOM, which stands for Digital Imaging and Communications in Medicine, is the current standard for handling, storing, printing, and transmitting information in medical imaging. It includes a file format definition and a network communications protocol. It has been consistently upgraded under the acronym DICOM since 1993.

DICOM files can be exchanged between two entities that are capable of receiving image and patient data in DICOM format. In this respect, it is the standard for todays medical imagining practices.

Within the DICOM standards are 4 key areas to understand and abide by:

1) DICOM Transfer Syntaxes

A Transfer Syntax is a set of encoding rules able to unambiguously represent one or more Abstract Syntaxes. In particular, it allows communicating Application Entities to negotiate common encoding techniques they both support (e.g., byte ordering, compression, etc.). A Transfer Syntax is an attribute of a Presentation Context, one or more of which are negotiated at the establishment of an Association between DICOM Application Entities.

 

2) DICOM SOPs

A Service-Object Pair (SOP) Class is defined by the union of an Information Object Definition (IOD) and a DICOM Service Elements (DIMSE). The SOP Class definition contains the rules and semantics which may restrict the use of the services in the DIMSE Service Group or the Attributes of the IOD.

 

3) DICOM Modality

A DICOM data object consists of a number of attributes, including items such as name, ID, etc., and also one special attribute containing the image pixel data.  One of attributes – DICOM modality, that represents DICOM file type. In addition, each attribute also has a Value Multiplicity to indicate the number of data elements contained in the attribute.

 

4) DICOM Space Storage

Every DICOM file type made by different machines that generate data in different sizes. We present most common features that we are facing now.

 

For doctors wanting to transfer and share digital images as a part of their diagnostic process, it is important to be aware of following and adhering to the DICOM standards. However the current generations of telemedicine software do comply with these standards, making the role of the doctor an easier one.

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5 Things to Do Before Adding Telemedicine to your Medical Clinic

5 Things to Do Before Adding Telemedicine to your Medical Clinic | IT Support and Hardware for Clinics | Scoop.it

As a Doctor, you are paid to have answers.

Answers to uncertainty, answers to pain, answers to how the future will turn out.

However one area where uncertainty looms large for Doctors is how they can get started seeing patients via remote telemedicine services.

The next 5 years are expected to see explosive growth of telemedicine both in use and public awareness. Yet, questions of effectiveness, compliance, and logistics plague each doctors decision to start using a telemedicine service.

Like a wise investor, many physicians have been watching from the sidelines, tracking the ups and downs, do’s-and-don’t’s of colleagues and experts for several years to find the best practice for incorporating telemedicine into their clinics.

If you are on the verge of incorporating telemedicine into your practice, here are 5 Things to Do Before Adding Telemedicine to your Clinic that will help ensure a steadier introduction, and long term success.

1) Know WHY you want to use Telemedicine

Before getting started, spend some time contemplating the change. If you have a desire to increase cash payments in your practice, telemedicine can help. It can also help you with schedule flexibility. And it will also help you keep up with the latest technology and services for your patients.

Decide first about what you’d like to achieve from adding a telemedicine service into your practice. This will ensure that it becomes a part of the practice smoothly, and with a purpose, rather than something you try a few times, and then give up on. Well begun is half done.

2) Set up your Team for Success with Telemedicine

One of the dangers of suddenly offering a telemedicine option in your practice is that the team feel threatened by the change.

Hold a meeting and give them a say in how the process will work, ask for their feedback on what could be a good initial system and best practice. Get clear on the process of billing and setting appointments in the schedule before starting to offer appointments.

Doing this preparation will ensure the team back you up, as you move to the virtual consultation model.

3) Set up your patients for success with Telemedicine

For doctors, a virtual visit has a lot in common with a face-to-face visit. The location and time frame is the same, and the process of diagnosis is similar. It is familiar territory.

However, for patients, it is an entirely new experience. The majority of the population is reasonably comfortable with using video chat functionality. It is your role to give them a sense of comfort and understanding that the process is simple and effective.

Providing some form of how-to guide for your patients can be very valuable. Give patients an overview of what to expect on the call. Let them know what the fee will be, how long the call will be, when you will call, etc.

All these small details will make the process much more comfortable for your patients, and make them more willing to try a Telemedicine visit with you.

4) Have clear Guidelines for what you’ll offer via Telemedicine

Telemedicine offers doctors huge flexibility. But there must be guidelines. Let patients know what you will offer, and what you wont. Patients may have specific conditions that still need face-to-face time, and it is at your discretion which of these diagnoses you can do via virtual visits.

Telemedicine can reduce or replace 70% of routine visits can be replaced. However that doesn’t mean you should outsource your entire day to virtual visits.

5) Start slow and grow with Telemedicine

Remember that you have been practicing successfully without telemedicine for many years, and although there is a huge upside to adding it to your practice, there is no need to dive in the deep end.

You might want to offer the service initially only to your most familiar patients, those managing chronic conditions, or those at a remote location. Treat your initial interactions as a learning opportunity, and learn how you can create effective results.

Remember that technology exists to connect people. The lure of the new can sometimes cloud the focus that you are still simply speaking to your patients, just in a new, more efficient way.

For Doctors, Telemedicine is exciting and scary at the same time. Starting slow, with a clear purpose, a prepared team and informed patients can do a lot to make the transition a successful one.

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4 Steps to Reducing Telemedicine Misdiagnosis

4 Steps to Reducing Telemedicine Misdiagnosis | IT Support and Hardware for Clinics | Scoop.it

Telemedicine misdiagnosis is a challenge for doctors who are looking to use the platform.

For over two centuries, the Doctors in society have been the source for explaining why we feel ill, and what can be done to change that. Yet with the explosion of online information in the past 20 years, it is impossible for any doctor to have the reach of the Internet when it comes to potential diagnosis.

 

Telemedicine adoption is on the rise and the growth is quite staggering. According to Bob Doherty from the American College of Physicians, “Doctors who ignore this latest competitive force do so at their peril, as it builds upon trends like pharmacy-based clinics that are providing increasing options for patients unable to fit their medical care into a 9-to-5 time frame.”

When a patient requests a telemedicine visit with their doctor, they assume that most conditions that can be diagnosed in person can be also diagnosed over a video consult.

 

For doctors, the role to becoming qualified to diagnose takes between 10-15 years. For this reason, it is reasonable to expect them to have a higher accuracy rate than most of their patients. However, for doctors when using a virtual format, there can be a risk of telemedicine misdiagnosis.

Telemedicine misdiagnosis can occur if proper steps are not taken before, during and after the consultation. To help, here are 4 steps to ensure doctors avoid telemedicine misdiagnosis when using the platform.

 

1) Prepare before the Appointment

It is advisable to educate patients about how the virtual visit will occur, and what is to be expected. If the booking is done virtually through an App, it is good to send some form of email confirmation as well.

You may have a list of potential conditions that can be diagnosed and medications that can be prescribed via the telemedicine platform.

 

2) Listen First during the Appointment

Consider the limited time you have with the patient on the screen, and the fact that the patient has likely self-diagnosed to some extent.

According to Dr David Troxel, ‘As a caregiver, it’s safe to assume that patients will come into the office already attached to a perceived diagnosis and possibly using medications improperly, based on their own online research.’


You might start with a quick understanding of what the patient already knows, and what symptoms they are reporting with. As explained by Dr Atul Gawande, it might help to keep questionnaire checklists for any conditions that may have similar symptoms. This will help to rule out misdiagnosis or missing multiple conditions.

 

3) Setting clear next steps

Once a telemedicine visit has been completed, there must be a clear course of action in the patients mind. Whether it is to take a course of medication, to rest, or to visit the practice for tests, this should be clearly explained by the doctor during the call.

For doctors, a lot of these next steps are typically explained by assistants. But on a telemedicine call, the doctor must take care of this themselves.

 

4) Consistent Follow Up

If a patient thinks that simply calling and reporting symptoms is the only step required, they are less likely to find telemedicine effective. This is my follow up is a good idea.

If the Telemedicine platform allows the doctor to message the patient this can be a great way to further follow up check in whether the symptoms have ceased.

 

At a minimum it can be a good idea to have a member of the team call or email to check in on how the patient is recovering. This will both increase patient trust and reduce telemedicine misdiagnosis.

A large reason why patients may avoid getting clinical confirmation is either the time constraint or the cost. This is where the adoption of Telemedicine by doctors potentially plays a role in bridging the gap.

 

Telemedicine is an amazing bridging technology. It enables offer patients a more reliable source of qualified diagnosis than simply searching online. It can assist a patient in confirming an initial self-diagnosis, by allowing the doctor to use their clinical expertise to the patients’ advantage. Doctors may advise patients to either seek a specific type of over the counter solution, or they may advise the patient to visit the office for further diagnosis.

 

To reduce the risk of telemedicine misdiagnosis, there need to be stringent protocols in place. Clear diagnosis criteria and knowing which types of consultations can be diagnosed remotely is important. Proper practices will help to decrease the risk of telemedicine misdiagnosis, and increase patients health and satisfaction.

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How to Launch a Telehealth Service in your Medical Clinic

How to Launch a Telehealth Service in your Medical Clinic | IT Support and Hardware for Clinics | Scoop.it

Many doctors are looking at how to launch a telehealth service. Doctors today are familiar with the telehealth virtual consultation model. Telehealth a few years ago was a new concept, but today it is becoming as common as using Uber, Airbnb and Venmo.

Doctors want to add the convenience and customization of telehealth services to their medical clinic. There is profit to be made and patients want the ease of remote visits.

The challenge is to know how to get started in a way that doesn’t interrupt your regular workday and can add value to both the patients and the office.

Here are 5 suggestions to help you launch a telehealth service in your medical clinic.

1) Choose a team member to lead

The success of launching a telemedicine service in your medical practice won’t happen by accident. You will need a dedicated team member who leads the project.

Think of it as a new section of your services that will take time, and need tweaking as you go. Choose a person on the team who has a good understanding of both technology and the patient relationship. Find someone who has an interest in moving the clinic forward and making a difference in the lives of patients. These values will be important as the launch will be challenging at first.

One tip is to plan a weekly meeting to review the progress with your telehealth team leader. Talk through the project and any challenges together. This will empower them and make them feel more focussed on main git a success.

2) Understand the rules and terminology

Telemedicine regulations will vary by state to state and insurance payer. It is important to know the specific rules such as your state’s law and the billing guidelines for all of your major insurance carriers. This A-Z Telehealth guide may help you guide your patients and help smooth over any confusion.


3) Decide on a platform

Perhaps the most difficult part of deciding on to launch a telehealth service is which platform to use. Each telemedicine provider will have their own benefits. Some are less expensive but offer little customization. Some offer more customization or better Telemedicine EHR integration than others.

It is important to know how much extra work a new technology will create, alongside any costs. Remember the time you spend working out the bugs is a key factor in the success or failure of your telemedicine implementation.

4) Start slow and test your process

Many offices will think launching telehealth means diving in the deep end and offering it to all patients immediately. All this will do is cause headaches. It is better to start slow, perhaps offering one or two telehealth visit slots per day, to begin with for the first 2-4 weeks. Then you can track the progress, refine the process and slowly and profitability of those telehealth visits.

5) Offer and Market to your best patients first

You probably have a pool of long term patients who are easy to deal with and have more common, easily remedied complaints. These are the ideal group to start with. This is because they are not likely to cause extra challenges above and beyond getting used to the technology. If you have an established relationship, this makes it easier as well, as they are more understanding that this is a new service.

This guide to launch a telehealth service in your medical clinic is just the start. There is no denying it will be a challenge but is well worth the effort. It will offer a new way to care for your patients and grow your profitability. If you think through the steps, and stay the course, teleahealth will become another successful, beneficial offering for your patients.

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Investment in Telehealth Expected to Rise

Investment in Telehealth Expected to Rise | IT Support and Hardware for Clinics | Scoop.it

American Telemedicine Association recently conducted the Telemedicine Executive Leadership survey which revealed that 83 percent executives are planning to invest in telehealth by the end of this year.

 

To keep up with the rapid growth and transformation in the industry, executives are planning these investments. Interestingly, around 98 percent of the survey participants believe that telemedicine gives a competitive edge over other organizations.

Jonathan Linkous, CEO, ATA, said, “This executive leadership survey confirms undeniably today’s leaders view telemedicine as a major driver in transforming healthcare. It comes as no surprise that 98 percent of survey respondents believe telehealth services create a competitive advantage, and I anticipate tremendous growth in the market as we continue to move toward more patient-centered solutions.”

 

The survey, which is based on responses from 171 participants serving at leading positions, also found that use of telehealth expands the reach and coverage of an organization as cited by around 84 percent respondents. The topmost barriers to telemedicine are believed to be licensure and reimbursements.

Over the next three years, there would be a rise in consumer demand that would push the growth of telemedicine as believed by approximately 50 percent of the respondents.

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Telehealth drives up healthcare utilization and spending

Telehealth drives up healthcare utilization and spending | IT Support and Hardware for Clinics | Scoop.it

Telehealth, which is frequently touted as an effective strategy to decrease healthcare spending, may actually be driving up costs, according to a new study by the RAND Corp. The report, published Monday in the journal Health Affairs, found that although telehealth appointments are cheaper than in-person and emergency room visits, the online and virtual resources encourage vast new utilization, ultimately driving up healthcare spending. The findings are a surprise wake-up call as employers increasingly look to offer telehealth services to their workers. About 90% of large employers said they would offer telehealth services as part of their employee health plans in 2017, according to a 2016 survey from the National Business Group on Health. The study’s researchers used 2011-13 claims data from the California Public Employees’ Retirement System to dive into telehealth costs. The authors compared the cost and use of telehealth visits and in-person visits for patients seeking treatment for acute respiratory infections, one of the most comment conditions treated via telehealth services.The researchers found that only 12% of direct-to-consumer telehealth visits replaced a visit to another provider. The convenience of telemedicine is encouraging people to seek care when they normally wouldn’t, said Scott Ashwood, lead author of the report and associate policy researcher at RAND Corp. “You don’t even have to go anywhere … you just have to pick up the phone.”

 

An individual may be less inclined to go see their primary-care doctor or visit the ER if they have the common cold or a high fever. But the easy access and low cost of telemedicine may motivate people to seek a clinical consultation, Ashwood said.

On average, a telemedicine appointment costs about $79 compared to $146 for a doctor’s visit and $1,734 for an ER visit, the study found.

RAND Corp. found a similar trend taking place among retail clinics. A study in November 2016 found ERs near retail clinics didn’t experience a reduction of visits from patients with low-acuity illnesses.

 

To discourage telemedicine overutilization, the authors suggested increasing patient cost-sharing for the consultations. This could encourage people to consider more critically what conditions they will seek care for, Ashwood said. “If I have to pay more out of pocket to pick up the phone, maybe I don’t,” he said.

The authors also suggested health plans reach out to patients who frequently use the ER and encourage them to use telemedicine services instead. Ashwood said patients with chronic conditions that frequently use the ER for care will effectively decrease spending if they use telemedicine instead.

“We are seeing patients responding (to telemedicine) so there is a benefit to respond to certain populations,” Ashwood said.

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8 tips for telehealth success

8 tips for telehealth success | IT Support and Hardware for Clinics | Scoop.it

Telehealth, or connected health as some call it, takes different forms depending on the provider organization and its strategy. The primary driver may be extending geographic reach by providing telehealth services to rural areas. Or it may be largely a focus on consumer engagement.

Regardless, there are common themes for successful initiatives. Based on my experience in several healthcare systems in recent years, I offer these tips for success:

 

Strategy is key – The organization must first determine what the key drivers are for the initiative. Is it to extend reach or provide an easier patient experience or a combination?

 

Tactics and specific programs will follow – Once the strategy is clear, which specific clinical services and offerings are needed the most will become clear.

 

Physician leadership is needed – If the focus is on extending the reach of certain clinical services, physicians are at the center and must provide overall direction. For consumer-focused services, ambulatory services or strategic planning leadership may play a more central role.

 

Operational issues and decisions must be considered early on – There are legal and billing factors along with workflow issues for clinicians and staff to work out before any implementation.

 

Governance and prioritization is needed – By now it should be clear who needs to be involved in oversight and prioritizing of programs within the overall initiative. Physician leaders, ambulatory, strategic planning, legal, revenue cycle and IT must all be part of this effort.

 

Common platform and tools to the extent possible – Before there is a formal organization-wide initiative, multiple efforts may spring up with different tools in different clinical services. Establishing a common platform and standard tools to deploy will be more cost effective over time and allow for more efficient support.

 

Leverage the core EHR vendor – Before investing in one-off solutions that need to be integrated, you need to fully understand what your core EHR vendor provides and what their product roadmap looks like for this rapidly evolving market.

 

Commit and invest – Senior leadership needs to be willing to invest money and resources to launch and support programs.

 

Pilot and refine before scaling up – Technology and workflows need to be thoroughly tested and refined based on user feedback before broad rollout at scale.

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5 Things to Do Before Adding Telemedicine to your Medical Clinic

5 Things to Do Before Adding Telemedicine to your Medical Clinic | IT Support and Hardware for Clinics | Scoop.it

As a Doctor, you are paid to have answers.

Answers to uncertainty, answers to pain, answers to how the future will turn out.

However one area where uncertainty looms large for Doctors is how they can get started seeing patients via remote telemedicine services.

The next 5 years are expected to see explosive growth of telemedicine both in use and public awareness. Yet, questions of effectiveness, compliance, and logistics plague each doctors decision to start using a telemedicine service.

Like a wise investor, many physicians have been watching from the sidelines, tracking the ups and downs, do’s-and-don’t’s of colleagues and experts for several years to find the best practice for incorporating telemedicine into their clinics.

If you are on the verge of incorporating telemedicine into your practice, here are 5 Things to Do Before Adding Telemedicine to your Clinic that will help ensure a steadier introduction, and long term success.

1) Know WHY you want to use Telemedicine

Before getting started, spend some time contemplating the change. If you have a desire to increase cash payments in your practice, telemedicine can help. It can also help you with schedule flexibility. And it will also help you keep up with the latest technology and services for your patients.

Decide first about what you’d like to achieve from adding a telemedicine service into your practice. This will ensure that it becomes a part of the practice smoothly, and with a purpose, rather than something you try a few times, and then give up on. Well begun is half done.

2) Set up your Team for Success with Telemedicine

One of the dangers of suddenly offering a telemedicine option in your practice is that the team feel threatened by the change.

Hold a meeting and give them a say in how the process will work, ask for their feedback on what could be a good initial system and best practice. Get clear on the process of billing and setting appointments in the schedule before starting to offer appointments.

Doing this preparation will ensure the team back you up, as you move to the virtual consultation model.

3) Set up your patients for success with Telemedicine

For doctors, a virtual visit has a lot in common with a face-to-face visit. The location and time frame is the same, and the process of diagnosis is similar. It is familiar territory.

However, for patients, it is an entirely new experience. The majority of the population is reasonably comfortable with using video chat functionality. It is your role to give them a sense of comfort and understanding that the process is simple and effective.

Providing some form of how-to guide for your patients can be very valuable. Give patients an overview of what to expect on the call. Let them know what the fee will be, how long the call will be, when you will call, etc.

All these small details will make the process much more comfortable for your patients, and make them more willing to try a Telemedicine visit with you.

4) Have clear Guidelines for what you’ll offer via Telemedicine

Telemedicine offers doctors huge flexibility. But there must be guidelines. Let patients know what you will offer, and what you wont. Patients may have specific conditions that still need face-to-face time, and it is at your discretion which of these diagnoses you can do via virtual visits.

Telemedicine can reduce or replace 70% of routine visits can be replaced. However that doesn’t mean you should outsource your entire day to virtual visits.

5) Start slow and grow with Telemedicine

Remember that you have been practicing successfully without telemedicine for many years, and although there is a huge upside to adding it to your practice, there is no need to dive in the deep end.

You might want to offer the service initially only to your most familiar patients, those managing chronic conditions, or those at a remote location. Treat your initial interactions as a learning opportunity, and learn how you can create effective results.

Remember that technology exists to connect people. The lure of the new can sometimes cloud the focus that you are still simply speaking to your patients, just in a new, more efficient way.

For Doctors, Telemedicine is exciting and scary at the same time. Starting slow, with a clear purpose, a prepared team and informed patients can do a lot to make the transition a successful one.

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How to Prepare Your IT Department for Telemedicine 

How to Prepare Your IT Department for Telemedicine  | IT Support and Hardware for Clinics | Scoop.it

You've read all about the benefits telemedicine can offer not just to your patients, but also to your practitioners and your clinic as a whole. You've done your research and have decided to take the leap, bringing telemedicine technology and services into your clinic - congratulations!

 

While this is an exciting time for you and your clinicians, it's important that you work closely with the other side of your telemedicine operations - your IT department - to ensure as smooth a transition and adoption process as possible. Here are a few things to make sure you cover with your IT department before you go live with your telemedicine solutions.

Get your infrastructure ready

One of the great things about modern telemedicine technology is the flexibility it allows - aside from the software and hardware, all a clinic needs is an Internet connection. Well, almost. It's essential to ensure that your Internet speed is capable of handling the rigors that may be placed on it by telemedicine technology such as videoconferencing. According to the American Telemedicine Association, any operation that offers one- or two-way videoconferencing should have a broadband connection capable of supporting speeds of 500 kbps both downlink and uplink. With many modern telemedicine encounter management software products used today, the amount of bandwidth taken can be adjusted or allocated between video and data sources accordingly.

The ATA recommends using the most reliable means available of connecting to the Internet. So for many applications such as a clinic, this means your IT department should hardwire your telemedicine equipment directly to your modem rather than relying on a WiFi connection and a router. Satellite and WiFi connection are used frequently for telemedicine applications, but users can experience noticeable differences in the communication speed, image quality and intermittence of signals.

Have a hardware plan in advance

Do you know if your telemedicine equipment will be arriving preassembled, or will you need to construct it upon receiving it? If the latter, are you and your IT department comfortable with doing so reliably and safely?

It seems like a minor point, but if you're a first-time adopter of telemedicine, try and find equipment solutions that are fairly low-maintenance in terms of requirements on your end. This means either shopping for equipment that is available out of the box as a telemedicine system, or trying to find an end-to-end solution provider that can take care of all your requirements. Trying to source multiple pieces of equipment from multiple vendors can make getting support or maintenance a nightmare. Try and find a "one-stop shop" to make the process as simple as possible.

Interoperability with existing software or hardware

Interoperability is a term used widely these days, and everyone claims it. The truth is, it would be impossible to deliver interoperability that would satisfy everyone's needs, but the best case scenario at this point in time is to use telemedicine products and technologies that can be easily integrated with your existing workflow and follow standards-based guidelines for transferring or transmitting data - such as HL7 integration.

Don't forget privacy

One of the sticking points that telemedicine has faced in recent years is that of privacy in accordance with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. It's a requirement that any Internet connections used to discuss sensitive patient information should have encryption using secure socket layer (SSL) and system-user identifiers such as logins and passwords.

Similarly, any cloud-based servers used to store patient data should be encrypted as well to prevent cybersecurity risks.

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4 conditions your clinic can tackle through telemedicine 

4 conditions your clinic can tackle through telemedicine  | IT Support and Hardware for Clinics | Scoop.it

Living with a debilitating disease can be overwhelming. Not only does it have an impact on overall wellness and longevity, but also the time, effort and money patients spend traveling to see specialists can limit the quality of care they receive. Still, these physician visits are critical to health outcomes, so patients could benefit from an easier way to keep their plan of care on track. That's where telemedicine comes in.

 

Technology is positively impacting the health care industry in various ways, and telehealth is an example of an effective tool for those living with chronic conditions. There is a direct correlation between access to care and quality of care, and telehealth closes the geographic gap to where and when people can get the care they need

4 chronic conditions supported with telemedicine

The ability to increase access to care via telemedicine has proven to be a convenient way to manage chronic disease. Here are four common conditions that telehealth can assist with:

 

  1. High blood pressure - According to Health IT News, someone living with hypertension can utilize telemedicine to connect with a specialist via video conferencing and discuss data from their wearable device

  2. Diabetes - Rural patients managing diabetes often lack access to a specialist. Telemedicine has proven a viable way to manage diabetes and when necessary, provide a high level interaction between patients in rural areas and diabetic specialist in larger urban centers.

  3. Depression - Discussing anxiety or other feelings related to depression with a psychologist can be done via telemedicine, as Mark Rood, MD, told the Cleveland Clinic. It's the same type of conversation that would happen in the office, so telehealth takes away the time and effort spent to meet in person.

  4. Arthritis - Determining one's range of motion doesn't have to happen face to face. With telemedicine, a patient living with arthritis can demonstrate how well he or she is healing and ask for additional recommendations if pain has worsened.

 

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How telemedicine can help keep flu season under control 

How telemedicine can help keep flu season under control  | IT Support and Hardware for Clinics | Scoop.it

Flu season is upon us. It's a good time to remember the best protection is to stay ahead of it and keep it from spreading within our communities.

While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention strongly recommends annual flu vaccination as the best way to protect against the contagious respiratory illness, many people will abstain from receiving the vaccine. This act has a major impact on those exposed to large populations, especially children in school.

When students with the flu or another virus attend classes, they put other kids and teachers in jeopardy for getting sick. By diagnosing these flu symptoms sooner and dismissing children from school at the right stage of the illness, facilities can prevent a flu outbreak early on. Telemedicine can be the tool to ensure this proactive stance happens successfully.

How does telemedicine impact flu season?

Telemedicine enables doctors to treat patients from afar, which can be incredibly beneficial for school systems during the flu season. Not only can facilities connected via telemedicine provide assistance and preventative care for students with early flu symptoms, but they can also treat students in the beginning stages of the virus and reduce exposing contagious students to a larger population, according to mHealth Intelligence.

Telehealth can enable protection for the healthy population and prevent the spread of the virus. This benefit can help schools dismiss children with the flu at the appropriate time and keep healthy students and teachers in class.

Success story: Sevier County Schools & Cherokee Health

For almost a decade, schools in Sevier County, Tennessee, have noticed improved overall health quality and reduced absences due to illness in students. Why? Because the school district has partnered with Cherokee Health Systems to integrate telemedicine health technology into their buildings.

"Sevier County has gone five years without closing a school down due to the flu."

 

By leveraging telemedicine technology, this partnership has completed over 11,000 telemedicine encounter visits that have enabled students to receive immediate diagnosis and treatment for strep throat, flu and other common illness. The telemedicine program with Cherokee Health Systems also helps students and teaching staff track and monitor ongoing issues, such as high blood pressure, diabetes and nutrition. As a result of the health and wellness initiatives with telemedicine, Sevier County has gone five years without closing a single school down due to seasonal flu outbreak. This is a big win for them, considering they previously had to shut down all the schools due to more than 20% of their population being infected by the flu.

 

By utilizing telemedicine solutions, more schools can detect flu symptoms during early stages of the virus by providing a full assessment and examination with the nurse. Telemedicine allows administrative staff to minimize distractions caused by sickness, such as missed school days, which can ensure education remains the top priority.

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How to do an effective Telemedicine Follow Up with Patients

How to do an effective Telemedicine Follow Up with Patients | IT Support and Hardware for Clinics | Scoop.it

When doctors consider doing a telemedicine follow up for their patients, they often do it in a haphazard way. There is a lot of confusion about the types of medical conditions that are suitable for a telemedicine follow up. Some doctors don’t even realize this is an option.

Most medical professionals are very used to being hands-on with patients. Indeed, some medical specialties demand it. But with a little forward planning, it can be easy to deliver an effective telemedicine follow up. This saves time and money for the patient. It also opens up another potential revenue stream for doctors.

Here are three important tips for an effective Telemedicine Follow Up:

1) Know what can be diagnosed at a distance

The first step in doing a Telemedicine Follow Up is to decide what can and can’t be done remotely. If a patient needs to be physically seen in the office, then this cannot be replaced with a telemedicine follow up. A full telemedicine diagnosis may require further information, but a follow up can be fairly simple.

In most cases, doctors are using a Telemedicine Follow Up for simple everyday monitor their progress, note any reported symptoms, talk through medications, review lab results, and generally check-in.

2) Decide on specific times for follow ups

One of the traps of telemedicine is that patients suddenly expect 24/7 access. A Telemedicine follow up should not become a burden for the doctor. Rather it is meant to streamline the process.

The best way to make sure this happens is to set specific days or times of day. Explain the process to patients and let them know to request a follow up rather than a consultation. Let them know the fee up front so there is no confusion about it being a free call.


3) Delegate all simple questions to the team

Very often doctors and medical teams will confuse a telemedicine follow up with answering questions. These are not the same things. Simple, repeated questions can typically be answered by the team.

To make your list of patient questions, think about what patients typically phone in about. Do they have quick questions to remedy small concerns? Are there side affects for some medications that may need to be checked? What other things do they call you about after hours?

These types of questions and concerns can often be handled with FAQ lists. Or your team can speak with the patient and answer them on your behalf. However if a patient is repeatedly using questions to avoid coming in, a telemedicine visit may be a better solution. It means the doctor is getting paid for the visit, and the patient is valuing the experience more.

 

Whether you’re working in outpatient or inpatient settings, offering Telemedicine Follow-Ups is a great way to care for patients. Telemedicine Follow up care can help ensure patients keep necessary routines. It can mean reduced readmissions, better care coordination and better overall patient outcomes.

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Why Are Telemedicine Doctors Important?

Why Are Telemedicine Doctors Important? | IT Support and Hardware for Clinics | Scoop.it

It’s no secret that healthcare costs continue to rise year after year. As a result, patients are having more difficulty accessing traditional physician’s services.

The American Hospital Association (AHA) recently reported some surprising healthcare statistics. Over 76 percent of patients place more value on access to health care than on having in-person interactions with their physicians.

The number of telemedicine patients in the United States is growing dramatically. In 2013, there were 350,000 patients who opted to consult with telemedicine doctors. By 2018, that number is predicted to be over 7 million.

It’s clear that this trend is changing healthcare in amazing ways. Telemedicine doctors are offering an incredibly important service.

This medical trend presents many significant advantages over traditional doctor-patient relationships.

Telemedicine Doctors Are Easily Accessible

Telemedicine offers a convenient solution for many patients. For example, it provides significant advantage to parents of children with chronic medical issues. Similarly, it also offers alternatives for patients with difficulty driving.

Physicians now can reach a much larger patient base. Patients have more options in choosing their preferred physicians and therapists. Physical location is no longer a barrier to quality medical treatment.

Telemedicine also serves as a viable alternative for follow-up visits. Because of its convenience, this results in a higher rate of patient compliance for after-care.

The Waiting-Room Experience Is Eliminated

The traditional waiting room experience can be difficult for many reasons:

– Patients generally do not like having to wait to be seen by their physicians.

– Being in a crowded room full of other sick people is stressful.

– The waiting room experience can exacerbate problems for patients with anxiety.

– Physicians feel guilty for taking breaks when they know there are people waiting.

Remote medical care reduces these pressures. The result is an experience that is better for all parties involved.

Results Are Overwhelmingly Positive

Communicating about medical issues through a teleconference may initially seem off-putting. However, the results have been overwhelmingly positive.  Most patients have been able to build rapport with their remote physicians easily.

Additionally, this treatment option is effective for addressing psychological issues including:

– Anxiety

– Depression

– Attention deficit disorder

– Obsessive compulsive disorder

Telemedicine Offers Cost Savings for Physicians and Patients

Physicians can introduce telemedicine into their practice with a very low initial cost. The ongoing monthly outlay is also nominal.

These savings generally pass on to patients. The typical cost for remote medical treatment can be as low as $25 to $50 per visit, depending on the doctor. Healthcare is now more accessible to people who previously may not have been able to afford it.

Telemedicine Is Now Legally Accepted in Most States

States are currently passing laws to legitimize the practice and protect patients. As of early 2017, over 30 states had enacted laws related to telemedicine.

These laws prevent state-regulated insurers from denying claims due to remote service. Telemedicine claims must be treated the same as claims for traditional services.

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What are Real Time Interactive services in Telemedicine?

What are Real Time Interactive services in Telemedicine? | IT Support and Hardware for Clinics | Scoop.it

The best telemedicine and telehealth technology gives doctors a way to offer immediate advice to patients who require medical attention.

Today, thanks to advances in technology, there are several different mediums utilized for this purpose, including smart phone apps, desktop software, and electronically monitored home visits.

A medical history and consultation about presenting symptoms can be undertaken, followed by assessment similar to those usually conducted in face-to-face appointments.

Here are the key methods doctors and medical professional use Real Time Interactive Telemedicine services for:

 

Teleneuropsychology is an example of this type of telemedicine that includes neuropsychological consultation and assessment over video or phone with patients that have, or are suspected to have, a cognitive disorder.


Standard evaluation techniques are implemented to assess the patient via video technology. A 2014 study by the Journal of International Neuropsychology Society found that this method provides a feasible and reliable alternative to traditional in-person consultations, although it was noted that quality standards and administration must be upheld.

 

Telenursing refers to the utilization of communicative technology to provide remote nursing services. Consultations can be made over video or phone to reach a diagnosis and monitor health conditions and symptoms.

This is growing in favor due to the low cost and high accessibility of the services to patients, particularly for those in rural regions, or a Health Professional Shortage Area (HSPA). It also has the potential to lessen the burden of patients in hospitals because it is possible to address minor ailments earlier and patients can receive advice about whether hospital admission is required.

 

Telepharmacy allows pharmaceutical advice to patients when direct contact with a pharmacist is not possible. This allows medications to be monitored and patients can be offered advice over video conference or over the phone. Depending on regulations, refill authorization may be given to allow patients to receive regularly medications when required.

 

Telerehabilitation utilizes technology to communicate and perform clinical assessment and therapy for rehabilitation patients. This usually has a strong visual element with video conferences and webcams commonly used to assist in communicating symptoms and clinical progress.

These telemedicine services are a great step forward in improving accessibility of healthcare to all patients, particularly those living in areas with limited local health professionals.

Additionally, they offer a significant benefit of reduced cost in comparison to traditional in-person appointments.

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From Paper to Digital - How Mobile Technology is Changing Healthcare

From Paper to Digital - How Mobile Technology is Changing Healthcare | IT Support and Hardware for Clinics | Scoop.it

To say that mobile technology use is dramatically increasing in healthcare is a great understatement.  Today about half the adult population owns a smartphone.  By 2020, that number will increase to 80%.[1]  In fact, eMarketer found that smartphone users will number more than two billion in 2016.  With the proliferation of smartphones, mobile applications are also exploding.  Research2Guidance reports that there are already more than 100,000 health applications with over four million downloads per day.  The mobile healthcare market in general is expected to reach $58.8 billion by the end of 2020.[2]  As mobile technology and healthcare innovations combine, a new way of approaching healthcare will be established among patients, providers, and medical device manufacturers.

 

Mobile technology is fundamentally changing the way patients and doctors relate, and the way healthcare professionals perform their work, and how healthcare professionals and medical device representatives/service providers interact.  Healthcare has traditionally been a paper-centric industry with paperwork for patients to complete, charts for doctors to update, and medical device order and fulfillment done through forms and faxes.  With the use of tablets and smartphones, all of that paperwork is slowly being eliminated.  Patients are using mobile technology to track and monitor fitness and chronic conditions and then transmit the collected data to their healthcare providers.  Doctors use tablets to check patient records, take notes, and update charts during appointments.  They also communicate with other physicians, using their smartphones to share photos and questions.  Medical device reps manage sales and track inventory with sophisticated mobile apps.  This move from paper to mobile technology results in real-time visibility, increased productivity, greater efficiency, and enhanced accuracy – all of which leads to lower costs and better healthcare for patients.

 

Innovation and Risk Go Hand in Hand

Risk often follows innovation.  Some of the issues facing the advance of mobile technology in healthcare are data security, federal regulation of mobile apps and mobile healthcare devices, and software and platform compatibility. 

  • The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) poses challenges for providers using smartphones and tablets to store and share patient information.  Some of the data security concerns raised by HIPAA are: easy access to data through weak passwords, substandard encryption, lost or stolen devices, file sharing software that could lead to data leaks, and cloud storage of data without airtight controls.[3]  These problems compound as medical centers struggle with “bring your own device” initiatives.
  • In addition to HIPAA regulations, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is poised to review a record number of mobile health apps to ensure that apps work as intended and do not adversely affect the functionality or performance of traditional medical devices.  To date, the FDA, which has been regulating mobile apps for more than 10 years, has only approved about 100 products.[4]  FDA approval might slow down some app development and cause headaches for some that are already on the market, but, according to a recent PricewaterhouseCoopers report, regulatory approval may lend legitimacy to products and prove valuable for building successful and sustainable revenue models.[5]  The FDA stamp of approval might be just the ticket for a healthcare app.
  • Just as in any industry, the speed of innovation often sets a pace that is hard to match.  Healthcare stakeholders, from patients to doctors to medical device manufacturers, will find gaps between software and hardware technology that slow progress.  For example, many doctors and hospitals retain legacy systems that may not work with new mobile technology, and apps designed for use on the Apple platform may work differently on Android devices.  Compatibility from software to hardware as well as software to software may pose challenges as technology continues to evolve.

 

The Future of Mobile Technology in Healthcare

The question facing the medical device industry is: Where is mobile technology going?  The first point that must be reconciled is that the proliferation of mobile technology is going to continue, and, if computer technology is any precursor, mobile use will continue to accelerate.  That means the healthcare industry and medical technology industry will need to embrace this trend or risk being left on the sidelines. 

 

The second trend to expect is increased connectivity between devices.  Mobile devices will connect with hospital equipment and drive greater visibility and functionality for healthcare providers.  There will be clear traceability and accountability of actions and responses within the clinical environment and with that will come the opportunity to harness data at a far greater level of detail and accuracy than was previously available. 

 

Finally, mobile devices will connect systems across healthcare.  Mobile devices will connect with electronic medical records, hospital financial systems, and medical devices enterprise resource planning systems (ERP).  This will provide clarity to an otherwise opaque supply chain and reduce the cost of healthcare through improved efficiency.  Mobile technology has the opportunity to deliver improved clinical outcomes at a lower cost.                 

In summary, mobile device technology is radically altering the healthcare industry from the patient to the healthcare provider to the medical device sales rep to the manufacturer.  There are risks associated with the rapid adoption of mobile technology, but “the train has left the station” and healthcare industry stakeholders will be required to adapt or become obsolete.  The benefits of incorporating mobile technology are significant.  Advantages across the industry will include greater efficiency, cost savings, and increased productivity.  But, of course, the most important advancement will be vastly more effective medical treatment for patients.

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5 Healthy Reasons To Start Using Telemedicine in Your Practice

5 Healthy Reasons To Start Using Telemedicine in Your Practice | IT Support and Hardware for Clinics | Scoop.it

As a healthcare professional, it’s likely that you’ve heard of telemedicine. If not, it’s basically a way for doctors and patients to communicate using certain tech devices. You might ask why this is important, and that’s what we’re here to tell you. There are many reasons for you to begin using this special medical care in your practice; as telemedicine solution providers, we hope to give you all the information you need about it.

1. It’s Beneficial for Those in Rural Areas

As you may or may not know, medical care sometimes is hard to find in rural regions. Often, available healthcare in rural areas is not specialized for a patient’s needs, or it is simply too far away for a patient to go in for treatment. Rural patients often are referred to a doctor in a bigger town or city, which isn’t always a possibility. That’s where telemedicine solution providers come in; we can establish a system that allows a patient to get healthcare from far away places.

2. Patients Can Get Help from Home

Let’s say a patient doesn’t have a car or feels too ill to make a trip to the hospital. Telemedicine is a great way to give that patient the care they need from their home. Using things like voice chat and video technology, a doctor can take a look at what’s wrong right away. This means that even people stuck at their house can be properly diagnosed. It’s like a virtual house-call!

3. It Offers Immediate Help

This ties in with getting help from home. Instead of waiting until the last minute to get to a hospital, a person can call up a doctor or send photos that have to do with their illness. This gives the doctor a chance to examine what’s wrong, and keeps the ill person from having to wait several hours to reach a hospital. In severe cases, this could save a life!

4. Early Intervention

Sometimes, it’s necessary to catch something right away. Take heart attack symptoms; because they’re so subtle, many people choose not to go to a hospital. This results in the heart attack happening with no time for intervention, and can even increase the chance of death. Giving people a way to quickly and easily tell you their symptoms can keep this from happening and improve their chances of survival.

5. Good Communication

The main thing people look for in a healthcare provider is solid communication. One of the common factors that drives people away from a practice is a lack of real listening and understanding. Though it may seem unlikely, talking through live video can be one of the best ways to truly understand your patient. It allows one-to-one conversation, and gives you and your patient the chance to talk thoroughly. This way, questions, answers, and suggestions can be more fully dealt with.

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Statistics Show an Increase in State Telehealth Policies

Statistics Show an Increase in State Telehealth Policies | IT Support and Hardware for Clinics | Scoop.it

Since the American Telemedicine Association began reporting on state-by-state telehealth policies, the landscape has changed rapidly. “For the past four years, we’ve seen an increase in the number of bills introduced at the state level,” says Latoya Thomas, director of the ATA’s State Policy Resource Center.

Here’s the latest from the ATA’s deep dives into state laws and legislation on telehealth coverage and reimbursement, clinical practice policies and licensure requirements:

 

Coverage & Reimbursement

Most patients use health insurance to pay for their healthcare, so telehealth needs to be included as part of coverage, Thomas says. “To ensure better adoption and utilization of telehealth,” she says, “it needs to be built into our current health insurance system.”

So far, 31 states and the District of Columbia have enacted telehealth parity laws for private insurance. These anti-discriminatory actions ensure that state-regulated health insurers can’t deny a claim or coverage just because the service was conducted remotely, Thomas says. In the last few months alone, nine more states have introduced telehealth parity legislation: Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Massachusetts, Nebraska, New Jersey, North Carolina, North Dakota and West Virginia.

In another milestone, all 50 state Medicaid programs now have some type of coverage for telemedicine. But in some states, Thomas says, Medicaid coverage for telehealth falls short.

In New Hampshire, for instance, Medicaid telehealth coverage follows Medicare restrictions on geography, patient settings and provider eligibility. But, just this year, the state introduced legislation that would remove geographic barriers and expand Medicaid coverage of telehealth to urban areas.

 

Clinical Practice

Across the country, doctors’ use of telehealth tools is often limited in clinical practice, Thomas says. Through legislation, there have been many attempts to remove privileges for virtual tools, require in-person visits and narrow the definition of telemedicine, she says.

But some states are passing legislation to protect telehealth from these artificial restrictions, Thomas says. Virginia, for example, recently enacted laws to prevent artificial in-person requirements and allow ophthalmologists and optometrists to perform eye exams via telemedicine to prescribe eyewear.

 

Licensure

With communication technology becoming increasingly ubiquitous, Thomas says, it should be as easy to access a healthcare provider as it is to binge-watch a show on Hulu.

But some restrictions prohibit physicians from practicing telehealth across state lines, Thomas says. This creates confusion when doctors travel out of state for conferences, for instance, or when patients want to access the best specialists—who happen to practice across the country. “The nature of our mobile lives is such that these state-by-state requirements are quite burdensome,” she says.

 

Some state telehealth models are starting to enable cross-state practice, Thomas says. Just last month, Utah became the second state (Arizona was the first) to join the Psychology Interjurisdictional Compact (PSYPACT), an interstate compact to facilitate telehealth practice of psychology across jurisdictional boundaries. The PSYPACT will go into effect if seven states join.

The model will help patients access mental health care, Thomas says, even as the country faces a shortage of providers. “There’s no need for an additional state license,” she says. “It’s a wonderful model that we certainly do embrace.”

Expect a busy year for telehealth policy in the states as more than a dozen bills are on the dockets from Idaho to Massachusetts this legislative session. “[The bills] all carry a lot of weight and tremendous impacts to the residents in the states where they’re being introduced,” she says. “Having the conversation that the bill is introduced is a wonderful step.”

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Prescribing Abortion-inducing Medication through Telemedicine

Prescribing Abortion-inducing Medication through Telemedicine | IT Support and Hardware for Clinics | Scoop.it

For minor injuries and fever, the healthcare sector has witnessed a steady rise in adoption of telemedicine as it saves time and money. Recently, a study was conducted to see the impact on women after they were prescribed medication to induce abortion through telemedicine.

From January 2010 to December 2012, around 1,000 women participated in a research study wherein they underwent abortions using a telemedicine service, Women on Web. Through this service, the women were suggested only medical abortions which involves administering medicines to induce abortions, rather than a surgical abortion. Almost 95 percent of the women reported successful abortions, while a few complained about adverse effects such as surgical interventions or need for antibiotics.

The research was conducted in Ireland and Northern Ireland. As per the researchers, “early medical abortion provided through online telemedicine was highly effective. The reported rate of successful medical abortion compares favorably with the rates of those carried out within the formal healthcare system, both when mifepristone and misoprostol are administered in clinic and when mifepristone is administered in clinic and misoprostol is taken at home. The reported prevalence of adverse events is low, and, critically, when women reported experiencing symptoms of a potentially serious complication, almost all reported seeking medical attention as advised.”

A major chunk of women reside in countries which impose strict abortion laws and women are forced to administer unsafe methods to end unwanted pregnancies. Unsafe pregnancies are a major reason for maternal mortality. In the US, safety of women is cited as the main reason for offering abortion support through telemedicine.

The Irish researchers further stated, “Our results have important implications for the perception of abortion outside the formal health system using online telemedicine. Firstly, they clearly show that not at all abortions taking place outside the law are unsafe abortions. Secondly, they add an important dimension to existing evidence that women themselves report abortion through online telemedicine as a positive experience with benefits for health and wellbeing. Millions of women worldwide live in countries where self-sourced medical abortion is a potentially lifesaving option, and strengthening services outside the formal healthcare setting could be a vital component of strategies to reduce maternal mortality from unsafe abortion. Finally, given the trajectory of abortion policy in Europe and the US, the visibility, and importance of self-sourced medical abortion will continue to increase.”

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The Role Of Telemedicine In Mental Health

The Role Of Telemedicine In Mental Health | IT Support and Hardware for Clinics | Scoop.it

In a given year, one in five American adults is diagnosed with a mental health disorder. And more than half (56 percent) of the U.S. adults with a mental health condition do not receive proper treatment. While there are multiple reasons and issues keeping people from receiving proper treatment today, one variable leading to this statistic is access to quality care. Consider, for example:

  • 34.3 million American adults self-reported needing treatment for alcohol or illicit drug use, and/or needing mental health treatment 
  • there have been 4,627 designated mental health shortage areas across the country, leaving over 100 million people without adequate access to mental health services

Improving mental health in America is not a simple, one-time fix. It requires a re-thinking of how we define healthcare to include behavioral health, moving beyond the stigma so people feel comfortable seeking care, and the coming together of multiple stakeholders and experts to develop new ways to deliver that care.

While the industry works to address the issues that prevent widespread and comprehensive behavioral health services, many providers are looking to improve access to quality mental health care through telemedicine.

The Benefits Of Virtual Mental Health Programs

Data show virtual mental health counseling is at least as effective — and in some cases, more than — treating depression as traditional face-to-face. A University of Zurich study divided a group of 62 patients in half and found depression was eased in 53 percent of those given online therapy, compared to 50 percent who had in-person counseling. Three months after completing the study, 57 percent of online patients showed no signs of depression compared to 42 percent with conventional therapy (Journal of Affective Disorders, 2013).

Additionally, a four-year Johns Hopkins study that included close to 100,000 veterans found the number of days patients were hospitalized dropped by 25 percent if they chose online counseling. This is slightly higher than the number of hospital visits experienced by patients who used face-to-face counseling (Psychiatric Services, April 2012).

For providers and patients alike, in addition to the positive health effects, there are numerous benefits to virtual mental health programs.

  1. Ease and convenience: patients and providers simply need a computer, webcam, and broadband internet access.
  2. Increased access: patients who live in remote areas, who are housebound, who have trouble lining up childcare, or just have too much going on in their lives to make room for regular therapy sessions, now have a connection to mental healthcare.
  3. Fewer missed appointments: patients are less likely to run into problems when they can meet from wherever they are (MDLIVE’s virtual mental health offering has a no-show rate of 3.5 percent, significantly lower than the industry average of 30-40 percent).
  4. Reach new clients: providers who offer services virtually can expand their reach to new clients across their state, not just within their local area.
  5. Customize care: leveraging a virtual platform, providers are able to turn their focus to how care is delivered through appropriately-timed assessments and tracking trends and progress over time.

From The Patients’ Perspective

For patients, access to a mental health services provider can be life-changing. While benefits of virtual mental health services differ from patient to patient, they can include: ease, convenience, privacy, access and increased choice and options. The services they need fit into their lifestyle, rather than the other way around.

  • Paulette in Nipomo, CA: “I was able to look through profiles of therapists online until I found one that matched what I was looking for. Now I am able to get the support I need, from an individual who is understanding, non-judgmental and knows how to talk to me — whether I am at home or on vacation. Having consistent access to this kind of professional support has reduced my stress and anxiety levels, and given me a sense of calm.”
  • Mary in Palm Springs, CA: “I used to do traditional face-to-face therapy, and found the inconvenience of getting there became a huge driver of stress for me. Now, I am able to see a professional I trust — while I’m sitting in my office on my lunch break. Having such easy access to the right support is helping me break down the barriers that exist from a history of stigmatization and hiding.”

While telemedicine alone cannot fix all the challenges that exist today when it comes to comprehensive access to quality mental health services, it does get us one step closer. By bridging the gap between providers and patients — and removing barriers to things like location, transportation and convenience — the industry can focus on addressing the obstacles that continue to stand in the way of achieving treatment numbers closer 100 percent.

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Telemedicine Technology

Telemedicine Technology | IT Support and Hardware for Clinics | Scoop.it

Telehealth technology is constantly evolving. Several decades ago, physicians and other health professionals engaged in telehealth using radios and telephones. Since the advent of the Internet Age and the widespread use of smartphones, telehealth technology has changed dramatically. Now, telehealth technology might include a smartphone app or an online video conferencing software. And with the growth of mobile medical devices, telehealth equipment is starting to incorporate sophisticated devices that can measure a patients’ vitals or scan health data in the home, without supervision by a medical professional.

HOW DO TELEHEALTH AND TELEMEDICINE TECHNOLOGY DIFFER?

There’s much debate in the healthcare field about the difference between telehealth and telemedicine. Many companies use the terms interchangeably. This is hardly surprising considering how rapidly the healthcare tech field is changing.

 

Most of the time, the medical field uses telehealth as an umbrella term to mean using telecommunications technology to provide health services. This might include hosting an online support group, examining a patient’s x-rays and providing a diagnosis from a remote location, or educating a group about a medical issue through an online videoconference. Telehealth can encompass not only healthcare services, but also nonclinical health education and public health programs.

 

Telemedicine, on the other hand, is a niche within telehealth. Telemedicine involves a healthcare provider useing telecommunications technology to provide healthcare to a patient. This might include having a remote, video visit with a patient, sharing a patient’s medical information and health record with another healthcare provider for a second opinion, or even conducting robotic surgery from another location. Telemedicine has a clinical component.

 

So how do telehealth and telemedicine technology differ? In most cases, they’re both relying on similar technologies – telecommunications technology. However, since telemedicine always deals with private patient health information, telemedicine technology needs to be secure and HIPAA compliant. A telehealth technology on the other hand, may be used to share general health information or health education and does not need to follow the same security requirements.

Let’s review the basic telehealth technologies available.

ON-SITE KIOSKS

Some telehealth providers offer on-site telehealth kiosks that can be placed in a retail clinic, community center, or job site. These kiosks usually include a computer interface, a variety of medical monitoring devices (to take vital signs, for example), and a connection to a healthcare provider. Because the equipment is all in one place, patients have everything they need to connect with a physician once they get to the kiosk location.

MOBILE APPS

There are an incredible number of health apps available. Anyone with a smartphone or mobile device can download a health app to track their weight, monitor their sleep patterns, see a doctor remotely via 2-way video, get medication reminder text messages, learn about an illness, get tips for preventing infection, chat with an on-call doctor, stay connected to an online support group…the list goes on. Mobile health apps can be as sophisticated as tracking and reporting a patient’s health information to their healthcare provider, to as simple as providing daily health education tips.

TELEPHONE

Many healthcare providers use the phone to consult with other specialists on patient cases, discuss medication requirements with a pharmacist, and even provide a diagnosis to a patient in urgent cases (sometimes called teletriage).

INTERNET

Websites like WebMD and Mayoclinic have turned the internet into an online medical encyclopedia, a place to get information on health conditions. With a simple wi-fi connection, people can look-up medical symptoms, take a public health course, join an online support chat group, or even chat with a medical professional.

ONLINE VIDEO CONFERENCING AND WEBCAMS

Online video conferencing has greatly expanded telehealth solutions. With an internet connection and a webcam, many people can now have a face-to-face visit with a healthcare provider remotely. In cases where a healthcare professional is using this telehealth technology to share patient health data, the software needs to be secure. But in other situations where the goal is to educate a group of health professionals about Ebola, for example, the organizer can use a simple video conferencing technology like GotoMeeting or even Skype. Since many computers and mobile devices now have integrated webcams and microphones, most people have access to this telehealth technology.

SECURE EMAIL (STORE-AND-FORWARD)

As with any other telecommunications technology, people can use email to communicate about their health conditions, get reminders about preventative care and health appointments, and stay-up-to-date on medical findings. With the recent adoption of patient portals and electronic health records, more healthcare providers and patients are using secure email messaging systems to communicate about lab results and their medical conditions. Physicians also use this form of telehealth technology to share patient medical data, especially photos and recorded videos, with specialists at other locations. For example, a physician at a small clinic might use a secure email messaging system to send a patient x-ray to a radiologist at a distant location for diagnosis.

Telemedicine technology takes many different forms and will continue to change as new technologies become widely available and affordable.

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