Tag Archives: telemedicine

Telemedicine Reimbursement Rates

Telemedicine can have variable reimbursement rates, an important thing for physicians to be aware of. In the seventh and final part of our series, Physician Focus: Telemedicine, Healthcare Matters sits down with award-winning physician Dr. Jonathan Terry, an osteopathic physician and surgeon and psychiatrist who uses telemedicine extensively in his practice. Dr. Terry describes how the physician reimbursement rate can depend on whether the patient is covered under Medicare, Medicaid, or through a commercial insurer.

Dr. Terry explains how physicians and practices must do their homework when setting up a telemedicine practice. In cases where many patients are covered by only a few insurers or payers, it may be easy for physicians and practices to find out how these top payers reimburse for telemedicine. For practices with more variability, this may be more difficult. To learn more about reimbursement rates, watch Part VII below. To see the full interview, click here.


 

Legislative Challenges to Telemedicine

Telemedicine offers many opportunities to patients, physicians and the healthcare system, including greater access and the possibility of lowering costs. However, telemedicine is also subject to state laws and regulations, which can make it easier to use in some locations than in others. For example, though Texas has a large and underserved rural population, Texas regulators have recently mandated that patients and physicians have an initial face-to-face encounter and physical exam before allowing services to be provided using telemedicine. This new regulation will make it difficult for patients to access providers who may be too far away to allow for the initial physical exam.

Though Texas has made the telemedicine climate more challenging, other states are making it easier to access these services. In Part VI of our series, Physician Focus: Telemedicine, Healthcare Matters speaks with award-winning physician Jonathan Terry, an osteopathic physician and surgeon and psychiatrist who uses telemedicine extensively in his practice. Dr. Terry addresses the regulations in Texas, and also explains how telemedicine is a quickly-evolving area, with more than 200 laws passed in 2015 related to telemedicine. In contrast to the Texas regulations, many of the other laws passed with reference to telemedicine have been positive and allowed for more use of technology in healthcare. To learn more, watch Part VI of our video below. To watch the full interview with Dr. Terry, click here.


 

Electronic Medical Records and Documentation in Telemedicine

As with any physician-patient encounter, telemedicine needs to include proper documentation and use of electronic medical records. In Part V of our series, Physician Focus: Telemedicine, we talk with Dr. Jonathan Terry, an award-winning osteopathic physician and surgeon and psychiatrist who uses telemedicine extensively in his practice. Dr. Terry explains that, in addition to documenting all of the usual aspects of the provider-patient encounter, physicians and practices using telemedicine should document that the patient was seen using telemedicine and why telemedicine was used. Also, when using ICD-10 diagnoses and CPT codes to fully document all aspects of the encounter, including the physical locations of the provider and patient during the encounter.

Telemedicine can act as a ‘shortcut’ in many ways, allowing physicians and patients to interact in ways that have not been possible in the past. However, physicians cannot take shortcuts when it comes to documentation and electronic medical records. If anything, physicians should be even more aware of these procedures when using new and less common technologies. To learn more, watch Part V of our series below. To watch the full interview, click here.


 

Informed Consent and Telemedicine

All physicians need to be aware of informed consent, whether they are practicing in a traditional, in-person environment, or they are utilizing telemedicine. With both unique advantages and challenges in using telemedicine, it is important for physicians to understand the implications for informed consent. In Part IV of our series, Physician Focus: Telemedicine, Healthcare Matters discusses this important issue with award-winning telemedicine-proponent Jonathan Terry, DO, ABIHM. Dr. Terry is an osteopathic physician and surgeon and psychiatrist who uses telemedicine extensively in his practice.

According to Dr. Terry, informed consent for telemedicine should be treated in a similar fashion as for any other medical procedure. However, there are issues unique to telemedicine that should be covered, so it is a good practice for physicians to use a separate consent form specifically for telemedicine. This form can outline the risks and benefits of using it, as well as allowing patients to opt out of telemedicine. To learn more about how informed consent works in telemedicine, watch Part IV of our video series below. To see the entire interview, click here.

 

Four Advantages of Telemedicine

In Part III of our series, Physician Focus: Telemedicine, we speak with award-winning physician Jonathan Terry, DO, ABIHM, about the many advantages telemedicine provides to both patients and physicians. Dr. Terry explains how telemedicine can promote positive interactions between doctors and patients, provide cost-effective care, increase convenience to patients and provide access to care for underserved populations. Dr. Terry describes his own use of telemedicine in his practice, detailing how he uses telemedicine to reach rural and migrant patients across a large geographic area. Without telemedicine, these patients would have difficulty in accessing similar services, which are frequently unavailable locally.

According to Dr. Terry, telemedicine can also benefit doctor and patient by offering a more convenient way to access services. For example, many workers would find it advantageous to see a physician through telemedicine rather than taking time off from work to visit the doctor in person. Due to its convenience and cost-effectiveness, patient demand for telemedicine services is likely to increase in the future. To learn more about the advantages of telemedicine, watch Part III of our video series below. To see the full interview, click here.

 

Ways the Affordable Care Act Affects Telemedicine

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) of 2010 has had profound effects on healthcare in the United States, including on the practice and use of telemedicine. Join Healthcare Matters for the second part of our series, Physician Focus: Telemedicine, as we sit down with award-winning telemedicine-proponent Jonathan Terry, DO, ABIHM, to discuss the many implications the ACA has for telemedicine.

Dr. Terry explains how the ACA has provisions to help further develop telemedicine services. Through the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Innovation, new care models are being developed that utilize technology in new ways. These new care models can help promote patient access and bring services to those in need. To learn more, watch Part II of our series below. Click here to watch the full interview.

 

Defining Telemedicine

In today’s digitally-connected world, telemedicine is becoming more important than ever. According to the American Telemedicine Association (ATA) there are currently nearly 1 million Americans using remote cardiac monitors, and nearly half of U.S. hospitals use telemedicine in some form. Join us on Healthcare Matters as we explore the topic of telemedicine with Jonathan Terry, DO, ABIHM, an award-winning osteopathic physician and surgeon and general psychiatrist who uses telemedicine extensively in his practice.

In the first part of our series, Physician Focus: Telemedicine, we learn the definition of telemedicine, and the types of services that can be provided through telemedicine. Dr. Terry explains that telemedicine can assist in many aspects of medical care, including services like transmitting images to specialists for further analysis and providing patient portals and e-health services. See below to watch Part I of our series. Click here to see the full interview.

 

Telemedicine More Common, Cost-Cutting

Telemedicine has been becoming more and more common.

There have been patients engaging their healthcare via telephone—a practice commonly referred to as telemedicine—for more than 40 years. The ability to consult a physician remotely has been a literal lifesaver for the nation’s more rural areas. Some in the medical liability industry have questioned the soundness of this practice over the years, but recent advances in technology have made telemedicine more safe, a cost-saving venture and a lucrative practice.

The term telemedicine has come to refer to any medical consultation provided via information technologies that include a standard telephone, video conferencing, a webcam, iPad or smart phone. And as society has become more reliant on these information technologies in their everyday life, both healthcare workers and patients have become more comfortable with the practice of medicine being executed in a similar fashion.

What has really advanced the practice of telemedicine is that health insurance companies are now more willing to reimburse the practice. Not only are more payers now willing to pay for telemedicine consults, many state legislatures are passing laws mandating that these payers do so.

The practice of telemedicine has especially taken-off in the Southeast region of the United States, where there are larger swaths of rural, hard-to-reach areas. Georgia Partnership for TeleHealth, a nonprofit telemedicine telemedicine provider in the Peach State, works with more than 350 partners, 175 specialists and has handled more than 40,000 patient encounters as of 2011. The program has been so successful, they are looking to replicate it in Alabama, Florida and other regional states.

Not only has it improved access to care, telemedicine has decreased what would the cost of medicine. School-based telemedicine in Nashville, Ga., has decreased the number of student emergency room visits by 118, equating to $354,000 in emergency department costs. A similar system installed in Nashville, Ga., nursing homes has decreased the number of elderly emergency room visits by 160, equating to $480,000 in emergency department costs.

Telemedicine has a bright future in an American healthcare system that desperately needs to cut the costs of healthcare delivery.

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