Providers

AI's impact on healthcare and telemedicine

Lead

The current and future potential impact of Artificial Intelligence (AI) on healthcare, particularly in relation to telemedicine, is huge. Presented here are just a few of the more exciting technologies and their potential for use and impact in telehealth applications.

With ambient clinical listening technologies (AI-based scribes), advanced, voice-enabled AI tools automatically document patient encounters and free-flowing conversation between physicians, patients, and families. An advantage of using AI scribes in a telemedicine setting is that providers can focus more continuously on their consultation with the patient, eliminating the need to divert their attention away from the patient for note taking. Using AI scribes can save providers significant amounts of time as the burden to create accurate notes or encounter summaries in the electronic health record is reduced as it can be done automatically with minimal editing. Some AI scribe products also include predictive tools that can analyze the conversations, provide feedback, and assist with order placement, future appointment scheduling, or prescriptions, which can help reduce provider burnout, save time, and help ensure that all topics discussed are properly coordinated.

HHS SAMHSA final rule makes PHE opioid-related telehealth flexibilities permanent

Lead

On February 2, 2024, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), published a final rule that expands on, and makes permanent, certain opioid-related telehealth flexibilities initiated during the COVID-19 pandemic. Under the rule, authorized providers will be able to start patients on buprenorphine or methadone—medications used to treat opioid use disorders—pursuant to a telehealth visit and without needing an in-person visit.

2024 Medicare telehealth billing and reimbursement updates with Carol Yarbrough

Lead

In the ever-evolving landscape of Medicare coverage, the 2024 Medicare Physician Fee Schedule (MPFS) brings crucial updates to telehealth billing and reimbursement.

During a recent Southwest Telehealth Resource Center webinar presentation, “`Tis The Season: For The 2024 MPFS Telehealth Billing & Reimbursement Updates,” Carol Yarbrough, MBA, CCA, CPC, OCS, CHC, a healthcare compliance and reimbursement specialist, discussed the intricacies of the 2024 MPFS changes affecting telehealth along with their impact on providers and patients alike.

SEARCH 2023: Back in-person and a huge success

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Virtual? In-person? Hybrid? These were the decisions faced by the officers and advisory committee of the Society for Education and the Advancement of Research in Connected Health (SEARCH) after three years of virtual events due to COVID. By 2023, the weariness of virtual meetings had taken its toll, so in-person it was. The outcome exceeded expectations. The National Telehealth Research Symposium in 2023 turned out to be a resounding success!

As in previous years, the meeting would not have succeeded without the support of collaborating organizations, and this year we had six partners return: the Medical University of South Carolina National Telehealth Center of Excellence, the National Consortium of Telehealth Resource Centers, SPROUT (Supporting Pediatric Research on Outcomes and Utilization of Telehealth), the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) Institute for Digital Health & Innovation, the UAMS Translational Research Institute, and the University of Mississippi Medical Center National Telehealth Center of Excellence. New for 2023 was a collaboration with the American Heart Association (AHA).

New Mexico telehealth partnership allows newborns in critical care to stay close to home

Lead

Until earlier this year, newborn infants in the Four Corners region of New Mexico, born prematurely or with unique health problems requiring specialty care, were typically transported to neonatal intensive care units at larger hospitals hours from home.

According to Dr. Bradley Scoggins, the purchase of an Amwell telemedicine cart and a new telehealth partnership with Presbyterian Hospital’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) team in Albuquerque, NM has helped keep more infants at the San Juan Regional Medical Center in Farmington, NM.

Assistance with virtual visits and technology is available at the VA

Lead

Have you ever had patients say that virtual visits and technology are difficult? Have your patients avoided virtual visits due to their lack of comfort with virtual care? Have your patients ever asked for a resource center or for someone to practice virtual sessions with to overcome any challenges? The Veterans Health Administration has numerous approaches to help veterans with virtual care and technology adoption.

Q&A update with New Mexico Telehealth Alliance

Lead
The Southwest Telehealth Resource Center recently connected with Stetson Berg, chair of the New Mexico Telehealth Alliance, to ask about his organization’s priorities for 2023, and the future of telemedicine in New Mexico. Berg became active with the New Mexico Telehealth Alliance in 2019 when he became administrator of telemedicine for the University of New Mexico. In spring 2022, he became chair. The organization’s mission the past 20 years has focused on policy, creating and moving bills through the state legislature that helped ensure that telemedicine could be delivered in New Mexico from patient visit to remote monitoring. “Even phone calls are considered included under our bill that was passed back in 2019, even before the pandemic, and the first version of that was passed in 2013,” Berg said. “There's been a long history of advocacy with the New Mexico Telehealth Alliance.”

Telemedicine: The New Frontier for Increasing Access to Breastfeeding Support

Lead

The remarkable lifelong health benefits of breastfeeding for both a breastfeeding parent and their child are well-known, and include a reduced risk of obesity, diabetes, breast cancer, early childhood illnesses and autoimmune diseases, to name just a few. Most new parents intend to breastfeed their child, and 83.2% of newborns in the US start out receiving some breastmilk initially, but according to the CDC’s 2022 Breastfeeding Report Card, only 24.9% of infants in the United States are exclusively breastfed at 6 months of age as recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

After Moving His Community Through Covid’s Challenges, Medina-Garcia Leads Nevada’s Clark County in Embracing Telemedicine

Lead

Early in the Covid lockdown in Las Vegas, Dr. Luis H. Medina-Garcia was front and center of almost every press conference and community conversation.

The public health emergency (PHE) put the infectious diseases specialist at the University Medical Center of Southern Nevada in the middle of Clark County’s planning and communication efforts and forced him and his colleagues to finally take that deep dive into an area of practice they had eagerly discussed many years prior to the pandemic–telemedicine.

Disentangling Telehealth from the Public Health Emergency

Lead

Five Key Telehealth Takeaways from the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2023  

On Thursday, December 29, President Biden signed into law H.R. 2716, the Consolidated Appropriations Act (CAA) for Fiscal Year 2023. This legislation provides more than $1.7 trillion to fund various aspects of the federal government, including a 2-year extension of the major telehealth waivers that were initiated during the federal public health emergency (PHE). 

The full text of the legislation, which comes in at 4,155 pages, is available here. The most pertinent section of the new law that relates to telehealth is under: