The 21st Century Cures Act, passed in 2016, opened the door for increasing access to telehealth services for Medicare beneficiaries. Two years have since passed. Where is your practice in terms of virtual service offerings?
Advancements in technology have improved healthcare in ways you may not have imagined. Telemedicine and telehealth allow you, as a provider, to virtually interact with your patients in a way that improves the quality and delivery of care you furnish, especially for those patients who are unable to come into your office. The convenience and instant feedback your patients receive from telemedicine visits are among the driving factors behind this rapidly growing branch of medicine.
Imagine the effects of routine in-home monitoring to follow up with medication regimen compliance, blood pressure, or blood sugar levels. Now you can increase your capacity to improve patient outcomes, as well as the number of patients you’re able to treat.
What’s the difference between “telemedicine” and “telehealth”? You may hear these terms used interchangeably, as they are broadly defined as using technology to deliver healthcare from a distance. Telemedicine and telehealth have become valuable tools for improving your patient’s health thanks to advances in several areas including communications, computer science, informatics, and medical technologies.
“Telemedicine” more specifically means seeking to improve a patient’s health by permitting two-way, real-time interactive communication between the patient and the physician who is at a distant site. This interactive method of electronic communication includes, at a minimum, audio and video equipment, and is a cost-effective alternative to in-person medical care.
The term “telehealth” (also called “telemonitoring” or “e-health”) refers to the use of telecommunications and information technology for healthcare, especially for providers to access a patient’s clinical health assessment, diagnosis, interventions, consultation, and supervision information. This includes the electronic transmission of data to providers by devices worn by patients. It also involves nonclinical services, such as administrative conferences, provider training, and professional health-related education across a distance. Telehealth may be as simple as two doctors talking on the phone about a patient’s care or attending a general healthcare system management meeting, or as complex as the use of robotic technology to perform surgery from a remote site.
A recent news release from the AMA regarding telemedicine states: “Telehealth and telemedicine are another stage in the ongoing evolution of new models for the delivery of care and patient-physician interactions,” says AMA Board Member Jack Resneck, MD. “The new AMA ethical guidance notes that while new technologies and new models of care will continue to emerge, physicians’ fundamental ethical responsibilities do not change.”
Master the Fundamentals of Telemedicine and Telehealth Services
Did you know that telemedicine covers more than just the virtual consultation that most people think of when they hear “telehealth?”
Let’s break down telehealth services into four distinct areas:
What technology delivers telehealth services? Let’s look at basic descriptions of telemedicine and telehealth technological connections providers use to deliver these services:
Important: Asynchronous SFT technology is only permissible for Medicare in federal telemedicine demonstration programs in Alaska and/or Hawaii.
Don’t lose out on revenue from this widely growing field of services. Get up to speed on telemedicine with TCI’s Telemedicine & Telehealth Handbook for Medical Practices 2018.