Telemedicine Services in a Nutshell: All the Answers You Have Been Looking For
What is telemedicine in healthcare? In the broad sense, telemedicine refers to a practice of ensuring patient care in circumstances where the provider and patient are not physically present with each other. The boon of modern technology now enables patients to consult doctors and gain telemedicine benefits by using appropriate video conferencing tools. Telemedicine services […]READ MORE >>
What is telemedicine in healthcare?
In the broad sense, telemedicine refers to a practice of ensuring patient care in circumstances where the provider and patient are not physically present with each other. The boon of modern technology now enables patients to consult doctors and gain telemedicine benefits by using appropriate video conferencing tools. Telemedicine services make healthcare more accessible and cost-effective thereby increasing patient engagement.
Since making its debut in the late 1950’s, advances in telemedicine services contributed to seniors having the choice to age in place. In addition, the patients that reside in rural areas previously had difficulties accessing a physician, however, they can now leverage telemedicine benefits and reach doctors virtually. Patients and physicians can share information virtually and in real time through their computer screens. Furthermore, it is also possible to see and capture readings from medical devices at a faraway location. Using telemedicine services, patients can consult a doctor for diagnosis and treatment without having to wait for an appointment. Patients can now easily consult a doctor/physician at the comfort of their home.
The demand from a new generation of tech-savvy population has pushed for the rapid adoption of telemedicine services and further fueled by telemedicine benefits including convenience, cost saving and intelligent features it brings.
How does telemedicine work?
While leveraging telemedicine benefits can be a simple process for some providers, for some it could be a complex one. For a solo practitioner and clinic, only a basic HIPAA compliant video conference software to start delivering telemedicine benefits and consultation is required. For telemedicine services providers a more complete virtual clinic solution needs to consider their existing workflow and incorporate the telemedicine services software solution into their practice. It is essential that these software have a waiting room, EHR and payment function. For large medical group or hospitals, they usually require custom telemedicine services to fit into their existing workflow to lessen the disruption of adopting telemedicine as its harder to train a large number of physicians to change their behavior. Moreover, it’s advisable for telemedicine providers to do due diligence on the regulations for telemedicine services, and reimbursement policy for their country or state. Organizations will have to change operationally and have knowledge of the regulations, legalities, and technological aspects of implementing telemedicine services. Many organizations consider partnering with telemedicine providers to make the transition and implementation easier.
Traditionally, telemedicine services use an online account or a toll-free phone number. Patients can request a visit by submitting some basic information on their condition, and then the physician either accepts or declines the visit or schedules it for the future.
A 4-step guide before starting telemedicine services
Understand the Basics
Before setting up telemedicine services, an organization’s administration and providers should know how laws differ when using telemedicine services. It is also advisable to consult with an expert to determine what equipment they need and have a basic understanding of why they want to offer this in the first place.
Deciding on Telemedicine Solutions
After laying out the basics, an organization should decide what type of telemedicine services to offer. The organization should undertake measures to respond to their current pain points, such as overcrowded waiting rooms or difficulty reaching patients in rural areas.
organizations should ensure they have compatible webcams, speakers, microphones, and more importantly a reliable internet connection. Telemedicine technologies should be identified within the practice to help others get acclimated and resolve tech issues.
Understand Regulations and Reimbursements
Policies and regulations in the telemedicine services can often prove to be confusing for providers, vendors, and payers. Organizations who are considering implementing telemedicine services should be familiar with the laws in their state. For instance, some states require informed consent from patients, while others do not. Also, some payers may not pay the same rate for telemedicine services as in the case of in-person services. Organizations should clearly identify how providers will be paid, as some companies seek grant funding.
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