This Month [August] in Telemedicine
Chief Executive Officer,
American Telemedicine Association
Chief Policy Officer,
American Telemedicine Association
This month in Telemedicine webcast was interesting because more than once was the ATA sentiment geared towards realizing the big picture of telemedicine: To help patients. Unless you are lucky enough to work directly with patients that utilized telemedicine on a daily basis, I think sometimes, including myself, we get caught up in the bureaucracy/methodological side of things. Sometimes it takes talking with patient or clinician in order to make me grasp how HIT is improving lives, my life too! So I appreciate the reminder John! At the end of the webcast he asked if you have a personal story of how telemedicine helped you or a loved one ATA needs to hear it, please email John Linkous -firstname.lastname@example.org
The main highlight of the first 20 minutes of this webcast focused on the positive trend of telemedicine utilization. Not surprising the younger crowd just beginning their careers in medicine strongly support the use of telemedicine; Medscape conducted a survey and found out that 70% residents had no problem consulting via telemedicine. And maybe because I am of the ‘younger’ crowd (bahaha) I think this is ingenious: the Colorado medicine board is doing away with the rule that patients need to see doctors face to face before utilizing telemedicine; ok so how many times have you gone all the way to the doctor’s office only to get a referral or need blood work done before they can give you a diagnosis/treatment?! Genius! Other interesting facts: 20% of American adults use some technology to track health care (counting steps, migraine triggers & heart rate, etc.) and 57% of households with children access one health portal per a month. Finally big employers are seeing the benefit of telemedicine to cut back on insurance costs; 75% of large employers will be using telehealth as a benefit next year.
Licensure compacts. Ok guys really? Every “This month in telemedicine” webcast talks about this. What is the hold up?! It is so frustrating to me that if I get ill on vacation in Hawaii (ok dreaming, who gets sick in Hawaii?) I cannot get a consult from my doctor over the phone or the internet. This is silly people and it was clear to me that John thinks so as well. He underscored the importance that ATA supports the federation’s compacts in principal, but has some concerns… it is estimated that it will cost 300 million for the 21% of physicians that have more than one state license. Oh money, yea ok that’s the same old hold up every time. Next time they talk about state licensure compacts I am just going to put a dollar sign in my post… you’ll understand.
Frustration was also heard in John’s voice about the FCC Telecommunications Act of 1996. The last Telecommunications act was in 1934, 62 years it took to write a revision, and it looks like it will take another 62 years at the rate they are going! ATA continues to be disappointed in the Act; the FCC estimated there would be a 400 million a year in spending on broadband linking rural healthcare, last year they approved for 200 million. They have only deployed 100 million; only spending a quarter on what the program was supposed to spend- “they need to step up.” Why John? They have 62 years to spend that!
A big note: telemedicine care for post discharge (knee and hip replacements) isn’t expanded out to Physical and Occupational Therapy for Medicare patients. CMS has waived two of Medicare restrictions: allow any Medicare beneficiary to provide services regardless of where they reside but somehow does not include health innovation- “we will be commenting to CMS” and so they did in a letter dated 9/8 strongly urging CMS “…to allow for PT and OT to provide rehabilitation by telehealth means, otherwise covered by Medicare…”
The ATA Fall Forum is next week (9/16-18) in Washington D.C. (and yes I put in D.C. being from Washington state!) with the highest registration rate ever and the exhibits have sold out. They actually have a ATA meeting mobile app for those of us that cannot make it. With a conference that has “Tele” in the name, I see this as the most logical and sensible way to attend.