Almost one hundred years ago, a multi-talented inventor and writer by the name of Hugo Gernsback predicted a technology that would allow a physician to diagnose a patient using video. Today, that technology is known as Telehealth.
The concept of Telehealth dates as far back as the invention of the telephone with healthcare professionals consulting and advising one another at a distance. References to the use of telecommunication appear as early as 1879 and live video communication as early as 1925, however the face-to-face video portion was just a concept. Now Telehealth has grown and evolved drastically, allowing physicians to provide confidential services to patients around the world with care.
While still in the early stages of implementation, Telehealth promises to revolutionize healthcare worldwide.
Using two-way audiovisual technology, a physician can interact with a patient (or several at once) remotely. Any of the parties can be remote and the connection is instant. It’s reliable, easy to use and goes a long way in preventing late appointments and no-shows.
What areas of healthcare can be used by Telehealth?
The better question is “What sector can’t be used by Telehealth?” The technology has shown to be useful in countless specialties. To name a few:
|Hospitals||Urgent Care||First Responders|
|Behavioral Health||Nursing Facilities||Hospice Care|
|Chronic Care||Remote Patient Monitoring||Dermatology|
In addition to being able to see and hear the patient in real time, there are peripheral medical instruments that can be used for further interaction.
Ditching traditional doctor visits
The current push is moving strongly towards Telehealth and it’s being fueled by Millennials, here’s why.
- It’s convenient. Smart phones are ubiquitous and nearly no millennials would be caught without one. Being able to meet with your doctor without having to walk, bike or drive over makes all the difference.
- Not missing work. Whether work ethic, team dependency, or financial motivations, millennials don’t want to miss work either. Telehealth visits really cut the time down to what’s necessary.
- Scheduling is easy. It can be done online with zero fuss and zero wait time. All availability is listed so there’s no back and forth. Oh, and you can add it directly to your calendar afterwards.
- See someone right away. Sometimes you need an appointment right away, and with an internet full of online doctors the world is your oyster. And you can read through reviews before meeting with them, just to make sure it’s a good fit.
- It’s so efficient. This is probably the biggest motivation. No matter how we choose to spend our time, we can likely all agree that spending it in the waiting room is a waste. Travelling a distance when we don’t have to is a waste, and waste is bad.
All in all, the versatility shown by Telehealth technology in supporting many diverse use cases has made it an incredible and desirable tool. In conjunction with the support of a booming millennial population, Telehealth is taking off as the new face of healthcare.…Read More
On Tuesday, April 24, 2018, the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions (HELP) unanimously passed the Opioid Crisis Response Act of 2018. This bipartisan committee consulted with officials and subject-matter experts from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSHA) as well as mental health experts, state governors and families affected by drug abuse to establish 40 proposals for responding to this health crisis.
A key component of their response involves increasing the utilization of Telemedicine.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, “[an]estimated 2.1 million people in the United States had a substance use disorder related to prescription opioid pain medicines in 2012,” and although effective medications are available to treat this addiction, “fewer than half of private-sector treatment programs offer [these medications], and of patients in those programs who might benefit, only a third actually receive it.
Telemedicine may be key to removing some of the obstacles to making these medications more available.
Ryan Haight Act of 2008
A primary obstacle to the use of Telemedicine in treating opioid addiction is the Ryan Haight Online Pharmacy Consumer Protection Act of 2008. This act was designed to prevent abuses from internet pharmacies that became popular in the 1990’s. According to the legislation, in order to prescribe controlled substances electronically, physicians must conduct an in-person examination of the patient, or the patient must be physically located in a hospital or clinic with a valid DEA registration. The DEA issued regulations that imposed a federal prohibition on form-only online prescribing of opioids and placed limits on the electronic prescription of controlled substances.
Although the legislation provided for a special registration that would have allowed physicians to prescribe controlled substances without meeting these requirements, the DEA failed to make this registry available. The Opioid Crisis Response Act is an attempt to compel the DEA to follow through on this provision.
Opioid Crisis Response Act of 2018
This comprehensive legislation includes forty proposals, attacking the opioid crisis from multiple angles. These provisions would enable the DEA to allow qualified healthcare providers to prescribe controlled substances using Telemedicine, expand the list of qualified providers to include community mental health and addiction treatment centers, and give more freedom for physicians, physician assistants, and nurse practitioners in prescribing medication-assisted therapy to patients who struggle with opioid addiction.
By making it easier for physicians to prescribe controlled-substances to help addicts, these medications will become far more accessible to the people who need them most, and to patients living in under-served rural areas. This legislation will go into effect within one year, following a 60-day comment period allowed by the attorney general.
Other provisions of the bill include:
- States will be encouraged to share prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMP) with one another to allow doctors and pharmacies to know if patients have a history of substance abuse.
- The HHS secretary will issue guidance every year informing providers what kind of information they can share with relatives about opioid-related emergencies and overdoses.
One advocacy organization, Shatterproof, provided the Senate with recommendations. Shatterproof founder and CEO Gary Mendell had this to say: “The Senate HELP Committee today made important progress in the fight against the opioid crisis by advancing this bipartisan legislation. We welcome the provisions to establish Comprehensive Opioid Recovery Centers and improve existing state Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs (PDMPs). As the bill moves to the full Senate, we urge senators to continue to improve upon the bill by including provisions to limit opioid prescriptions for acute pain to three days, require states to meet minimum best practices for PDMPs, and incentivize evidence-based approaches to treating substance use disorders. If passed, these smart, common-sense provisions will start saving lives immediately.”
For more information on Telehealth and how to get started, contact us today.…Read More
The healthcare industry is evolving fast to keep up with the demands of our growing population. While you may read about the aging Baby Boomer population as health care’s greatest challenge, other issues require similar attention. Dealing with inmate health in state prisons has become just as much of a hurdle.
Telemedicine has already helped many health care agencies be able to communicate better with patients. Now Texas is working with Texas Tech University and the University of Texas Medical Branch to increase inmate access to providers through telemedicine technology. It’s a major development in health care evolution because it saves time, reduces costs, removes transportation as an issue and is incredibly easy to implement.
How the Partnership Between Texas and the Universities Work
There isn’t a better partnership to improve inmate medical health in Texas prisons than the state working directly with universities. The partnership is one likely inspiring other medical institutions to bring improved health care to the masses.
With this practice, Texas now becomes a bold new innovator in telemedicine despite lagging behind on the technology in past years.
Dr. Owen Murray, vice president of offender health services at the University of Texas Medical Branch gives good insight into how telemedicine works with inmates:
“(Telemedicine) has improved access to care, and allowed us to recruit good doctors who might not want to work in prisons, but can now work in an office and meet with offenders remotely.”
The above partnership between the three (The Texas Department of Criminal Justice, UTMB, and Texas Tech University) is a huge step forward in providing comprehensive health services to inmates in Texas prisons.
How Estelle Prison is Making Telemedicine Work
In Huntsville, Estelle Prison was already experiencing trouble on medical costs caring for inmates. Their initiative to work with the state to bring care from the above universities could soon change everything in how they deal with inmate care.
Considering Texas has many prisons, this could finally improve their budgets after experimenting with telemedicine for years. The state was already using primitive forms of the tech as far back as the early 1990s, though the video technology prohibited efficient use.
Now with hi-definition cameras and high-speed internet, the time is right for them and other state prisons to take action. The prison is now using these to conduct Telemedicine visits, connecting remotely housed inmates with medical professionals all around the state by subcontracting prison healthcare to the above reputable universities.
The amount of money saved from telemedicine technology in Texas prisons is potentially exponential. This is important for the state because while prisons receive a certain amount of money to spend per prisoner, Texas spends far less on prisoners than the national average. Telemedicine technology is inexpensive and can boost quality greatly with little spend.
For one, using telemedicine allows digital face-to-face interactions with doctors and saves on transportation and high security costs (transferring inmates to a clinic or hospital, or requesting an in-house visit by the provider).
How about the technology? Is the startup cost high?
It’s not. The SecureVideo platform supports a wide range of devices which you likely already have. For example, smart phones and tablets are supported and they already have built-in cameras and microphones. Many laptops have these built-in as well and if your computer doesn’t, you can easily purchase an external webcam and get started right away. No special or proprietary equipment is used.
Setting up the Perfect Behavioral Health Use Case
Thanks to improved telemedicine cameras, doctors can create meaningful connections with patients as if they were in the same room, while also being able to instantly see another patient in an entirely different location. They can work from the comfort of their own offices securely and meet with different prisoners easily and efficiently.
From a cost standpoint, this saves the doctor having to travel great distances to the prisons, something they’d charge extra to do. This also potentially speeds up inmate care through on-demand sessions, which the provider is more likely to provide given that they can video conference from anywhere with an internet connection.
According to Urban.org, the telemedicine process has already saved Texas prisons from $200-$1000 per inmate.
Setting a time for an inmate to meet with a doctor via telemedicine is extremely simple, and so are follow ups. The quick access to follow-ups lowers any chance of medical relapses or even death in inmates dealing with the most severe medical problems. This is a step forward to ensuring good medical outcomes and healthy patients.
Contact SecureVideo to learn about our HIPAA-compliant video platform and see how easy it is to securely integrate into your system.…Read More