In a nutshell, Telemedicine is the remote delivery of health care services and clinical information using the smart phones and computers: video conferencing, text messaging, email and even telephone using HIPAA secure connections.
Telemedicine is growing quickly in the United States. According to the American Telemedicine Association, there are currently about 200 Telemedicine networks, with 3,500 service sites in the US. Nearly 1 million Americans are currently using remote cardiac monitors. The Veterans Health Administration, a pioneer in using Telemedicine, now delivers hundreds of thousands of remote consultations every year. Over half of all U.S. hospitals now use some form of Telemedicine and worldwide, millions of patients use Telemedicine to monitor their vital signs, remain healthy and out of hospitals and emergency rooms.
Yes. When practiced by skilled professionals it’s a safe and cost-effective way to extend the delivery of health care.
Yes. Common medical problems are how Telemedicine began. Now with more experience trained healthcare providers could use Telemedicine for most any health concern, because a Telemedicine consult is designed to be just like a regular doctor’s appointment. A growing number of specialists are now using Telemedicine for dermatology, mental health, orthopedic consults, and even management of chronic diseases.
While technology will continue to enhance the delivery of health care as we know it, it will likely never eliminate the need for in-person interaction in health care. Just like email changed the way businesses communicate, Telemedicine is changing our definition of the typical office visit. The results will be improved access to care, lower cost of delivery and, ultimately, improved patient outcomes.
It can help improve the perception of the levels of quality care available in the community, which is attractive to people who are considering a move to the area.
Patients should ask their doctor, hospital or healthcare provider about Telemedicine services that are already available. In many cases, healthcare providers such as Dr David Abrams may provide home health monitoring program or other Telemedicine services.
In certain circumstances. Many Telemedicine services, such as remote radiology, pathology and some cardiology, are covered simply as physician services for beneficiaries living in rural areas.
24 states and the District of Columbia require that insurance plans pay for Telemedicine by video conference the same as they pay for in-person services. Currently those insurers comply with those mandates by offering restricted panels of providers and/ or restricted locations. Many other insurers cover at least some services – and many more have expressed interest in expanding their Telemedicine coverage. To find out if your insurance company covers Telemedicine services, please contact your benefits manager.