Telehealth has become a vital tool to deliver timely and effective medical care, particularly in rural areas. One hospital in Arizona, Yavapai Regional Medical Center (YRMC), is using telehealth to improve patient satisfaction and treat conditions that would otherwise need the services of a “big-city” hospital.
News & Events
Telemedicine reimbursement is always a hot topic but even hotter with the new CMS regulations. On February 7, 2019, Jordana Bernard the Director for Policy and Public Affairs at InTouch Health, was the guest presenter for the Southwest Telehealth Resource Center and the Arizona Telemedicine Program webinar series. The webinar reached over 500 individuals across the US and a few international folks joined in too! Jordana provided a concise and informative overview of all the latest changes in telehealth reimbursement. It was recorded and archived on our website along with her slide deck and a couple of useful handouts (e.g., the list of 98 CPTs that are reimbursed), so if you missed it think about taking the time to view it. These, along with all our previous webinars, can be found at https://telemedicine.arizona.edu/webinars/previous .
Practically everywhere you turn today, AI, or artificial intelligence, (aka deep learning and machine learning) pops up as the must have, coolest thing since robots and thinking machines were first introduced in popular literature and films. After all, who doesn’t want a car that can sense when it’s safe to change lanes, stop before hitting the deer in the road and even drive itself?
There is little doubt that AI already has and will continue to revolutionize the world and thereby healthcare. For example, the past five years at the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA) annual meeting -- the world’s largest radiology meeting, attracting over 50,000 people to Chicago -- have seen an explosion in the number of vendors promoting AI in their products, and the number of scientific talks and courses on the topic. The 2018 meeting in November was no exception – I swear, every single vendor must have had “AI” advertised somewhere on their booth. Throughout the meeting sessions, AI, deep learning and machine learning topics permeated presentations.
The 115th Congress (2017-2018) took big steps forward for telehealth.
First, members introduced 119 bills that included the term “telehealth” or “telemedicine,” a 42% increase over telehealth legislation introduced in the 114th Congress.
Second, the bipartisan Congressional Telehealth Caucus formed to “discuss how best to improve remote care to Americans who need it most.” Yes, you read that right: Bipartisan! There is enormous bipartisan support for telehealth in Congress.
2018 had many successes in the telehealth arena – check out some of our past blogs for highlights! There is, however, still much to be accomplished, so looking forward we asked our colleagues around the country what they are looking forward to in 2019. We hope you find some inspiration, new directions and novel ideas in these thoughts to help guide your 2019 adventures in telehealth!
Elizabeth A Krupinski, Ph.D.
Co-Director, Southwest Telehealth Resource Center
The SWTRC is looking forward to watching trends in artificial intelligence (AI) and how it can not only impact Telehealth and healthcare in general, but how AI companies and investigators will effectively and efficiently integrate AI into the clinical information environment and workflow. Being embedded in an academic environment also provides us with some unique opportunities to partner on grants with others developing and expanding their Telehealth footprint, and the SWTRC looks forward to be a vital part of these grants and helping provide training and related Telehealth expertise.
Ronald S. Weinstein, MD, FCAP, FATA
Co-Director, Southwest Telehealth Resource Center
I'm looking forward to leveraging the vast potential that emerging 5G mobile cellular phone technologies promise to deliver to the health care industry. 5G delivers gigabit speeds, reduced latency, higher system capacity, and the massive device connectivity needed for optimizing personalized patient care. 5G networks will enable new classes of digital technologies aimed at improving treatment outcomes. Telehealth's "e-classrooms–of-the future" will promote greater patient participation in their personal healthcare teams while addressing, at the same time, the need for significant improvements in US population health literacy across the entire country.
The 2018 SEARCH (Society for Education and the Advancement of Research in Connected Health) meeting was the first held by this group of dedicated telehealth researchers since the Society was formed earlier this year. The meeting was jointly organized and hosted by SEARCH, the West Health Institute and the National Consortium of Telehealth Resource Centers (NCTRC). It was held at the West Health facilities in San Diego, CA October 24th and 25th. About 150 people attended from a wide variety of backgrounds and there were 47 presenters, all with a passion for proving (or disproving) the benefits of connected health through the conduct of rigorous investigations.
Children have long been recognized as a population with significant challenges accessing medical care, most notably due to a limited number of pediatric specialists who are concentrated at children’s hospitals in urban settings. And the very nature of face-to-face, traditional health care may place a disproportionate burden on low-income and rural based families.
This is particularly true in the large geographic region served by Children’s Hospital Colorado and the University of Colorado School of Medicine.
The Southwest Telehealth Resource Center has scored a hit!
Or, you might say, five hits!
Established in 2009 by the Arizona Telemedicine Program, with funding from the federal Health Resources and Service Administration’s Office for the Advancement of Telehealth, SWTRC serves telehealth programs in five southwestern states: Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico and Utah.
Have you been to any telemedicine meetings lately and wondered what’s happened to the basic research presentations? Surely it can’t be that we’ve solved all the challenges and finally proved to everyone that telemedicine really does have all the advantages we’ve been touting for years.
No, there’s still a lot to discover and basic research is alive and well. The reality is that times change as do societies, tradeshows and conferences. It’s not a bad thing and there are lots of very useful, educational and productive telehealth meetings to choose from and attend. It all depends on what you are looking for. For example, the Service Provider Summit (SPS https://ttspsworld.com/) is a great national conference focusing on linking telemedicine and telehealth service provider companies with hospitals, healthcare systems, clinics and others who need their services.
In its spring 2018 update on state telehealth laws and reimbursement policies, the Center for Connected Health Policy reported a patient-friendly trend in telehealth and telemedicine delivery to home-bound patients. Ten states have revised their policies to recognize a Medicaid patient’s home as an “originating site” – a policy change enacted to improve patients’ access to care.
The 10 states are Colorado, Delaware, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New York, Texas, Washington and Wyoming.