A lot can be said about the GOP’s plan to repeal the ACA, but what can we expect from these changes? And how does it affect Telehealth as we know it?
Image from Vocativ.
Prior to election, Donald Trump had announced a 10-point plan to reform the VA. In his speech, he highlighted a need for more mental health professionals to ensure there would be no shortage of care for veterans. The end goal was for vets to have total access to mental healthcare and be covered both within and outside the VA.
Not only does he claim to support Mental Health, he has also stated the importance of modernizing how those needs are served. We’re talking Telehealth.
“Modernize the VA. […] The Trump plan will make it happen by accelerating and expanding investments in state of the art technology to deliver best-in-class care quickly and effectively. All veterans should be able to conveniently schedule appointments, communicate with their doctors, and view accurate wait times with the push of a button.”
“Ensure our veterans get the care they need wherever and whenever they need it. No more long drives.”
“Support the whole veteran, not just their physical health care, but also by addressing their invisible wounds”
How Telehealth plays in:
In order to make good on these specific promises, the most practical and effective way is through the adoption and advancement of Telehealth and HIPAA compliant videoconferencing. Using the internet and a personal device (computer, laptop or phone) and the right videoconferencing system, veterans are able to view their provider’s availability online and choose a time without back and forth conversations. Once a time is chosen, the provider can accept and be connected in a virtual face-to-face visit. This is getting the care they need wherever and whenever, and this is the kind of modernized care we’re all looking for.
Telehealth stands to grow with any new changes the government makes regarding healthcare.
For some of the same reasons telemedicine is being welcomed into hospitals, prisons or private practices, we are finding that it’s also gaining popularity with schools. Moving past those general reasons why, here’s what makes telemedicine in schools particularly special:
Image from ArkansasOnline: Rural Arkansas schools to go telemedicine route
It keeps kids on campus and in classrooms!
Kids get scrapes, sniffles and sneezes as surely as the sun rises every day and while many schools have an onsite nurse, only some are permitted to independently administer medication. The difference in permission depends on licensure and state certification which Registered Nurses (RN) are given and Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs) are not. This important detail factors into why Telemedicine in school matters.
(Quick difference between the two types of nurses)
RN: 2-4 year college degree and exam in the state they work. Allowed to perform various medical activities and make decisions about how and when to treat injuries or illnesses.
LPN: High school diploma, nursing program and exam for a license. Their actions must be supervised by an RN or doctor.
According to Deb Group that specializes in occupational skin care and hand hygiene, there are 164 million lost school days per year from students in K-12. Missing school puts students at a disadvantage. Each day that a student misses school means 7.5 hours of catch up in addition to the hours they already have. It’s burdensome and overwhelming, and we haven’t even considered that the day they missed was a test prep day.
So let’s consider the case of an asthmatic child enrolled in a school with LP nurses. The child is wheezing and gasping for air and seeks the nurse for help. The LPN recognizes this as an asthma attack and has access to asthma medication, however laws are preventing the LPN from administering them. The child at this point can be in desperate need with the remedy readily available, but only a doctor or RN is permitted to provide medication.
In this time sensitive situation the LPN is only authorized to call an ambulance and/or the legal guardian and wait. By the time they finally arrive, the condition may have worsened causing the student to lose the rest of the day and maybe another for recovery.
How having Telemedicine helps
If the school had implemented telemedicine, the LPN could have contacted an offsite doctor or RN to show them the child and ask about the appropriate steps to take. Seeing the child, the doctor or RN would then be able to make a diagnosis and authorize the LPN to act on their behalf (while they supervise) and treat the child in-need right then. Telemedicine is not just beneficial to helping kids with asthma. A similar scenario could be played out if it were a stomachache, headache, earache, fever, strep throat – you name it.
This is not to say that secure video conferencing can end all mid-day visits to the family doctor’s office. Instead this should be seen as a frontline solution that can help treat kids right away – at school, and back in classrooms so they don’t fall behind.
Here are the states that already authorize Medicaid reimbursement for telemedicine services in schools. Does Medicaid offer reimbursements for telemedicine in your state?…Read More
Beginning October 1, 2012, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) entered a program which required them to reduce payments to Inpatient Prospective Payment System (IPPS) hospitals with excessive readmissions. The goal was to promote lasting care for patients before sending them home and to end the “revolving door” of readmissions. A very honorable goal, but maybe not the only one.…Read More
In the coming days the Senate will be voting on S.2873, or more commonly known as the ECHO (“Expanding Capacity for Health Outcomes”) Act sponsored by Sen. Orrin Hatch [R-UT] and Sen. Brian Schatz [D-HI]. If passed, this bill would require HHS (Health and Human Services) and HRSA (Health Resources and Services Administration) to study technology-enabled collaborative learning and capacity building models. In other words, they have to study the uses and capabilities of Telehealth technologies and determine its ability to improve patient care and provider education.
Why is this important?…Read More
There’s a lot of uncertainty going around about what the results of this election mean for the nation; healthcare being a major focus. While it’s difficult to determine what will happen with healthcare overall, you can be assured that Telehealth will always be a growing and relevant part of our lives.…Read More
More people are insured, costs are higher, and technology is advancing more rapidly than ever before. As a result of this evolving landscape, medical professionals are looking for new ways to reach customers while patients are looking for better ways to manage their medical expenses and their health, and everyone’s wondering:
What changes to medicine and healthcare will 2016 bring?
Drug pricing is under pressure.
If you think prescription drug prices are too high, well, you’re probably right. Brand-name drug prices have increased much faster than the pace set by inflation every year for the last decade, and even generics are more expensive (Prices increased an average of nine percent in 2014). Add in the controversial practices of companies like Turing Pharmaceuticals, and there’s more pressure than ever on the market to lower the cost of prescription medication.
Only the passage of time will tell how and in what ways the American consumer can expect things to change, but it’s likely that pharmaceutical companies may try out an alternative financing model intended to spread out payments for expensive drugs. It’s also possible that we’ll see more outcomes-based reimbursement agreements struck in 2016; such agreements between pharmaceutical companies and insurers or health systems will tie reimbursement payments to health outcomes as opposed to volume, which may drive prices down.
The Fitbit and Apple Watch can expect medical-grade competition.
Everywhere you look, you’ll see someone sporting this step counter or that health tracker, but some experts contend that the potential for higher-tech, medical-grade wearables has only now begun to be realized. We’re talking devices to help the VA monitor patients with prosthetics, and those with the capacity to detect seizures in epilepsy patients; in fact, a Soreon Research report expects this sector of the wearables market to reach $41 billion by 2020.
The use and practice of telehealth technologies will continue to grow.
Because there’s an app for that. With a sharp rise in the use of telemedicine apps (32 percent of consumers had at least one health-related application on their mobile phones in 2015, up from 16 percent in 2013.) and other telehealth technologies, medical professionals are better equipped than ever before to provide exceptional care to patients everywhere.