It has also loosened former requirements that the patient and provider must be in the same state, permitting an expert, say, in New York to be reimbursed for consulting with a patient in Vermont via telemedicine. Over the last few months, millions of people have relied on video or telephone calls to talk to their doctors. How safe is the bathroom for patients who are physically challenged? “I don’t think it’s absolutely necessary to be face-to-face every couple of weeks,” she said. A few insurers, including Cigna and the Blue Cross plan in North Carolina, said they will continue to cover telehealth services at pandemic levels through the end of the year. For the many millions of patients with chronic health conditions, an invaluable asset of telemedicine could accrue from the use of body-worn sensors through which potentially serious changes in a patient’s health status can be monitored remotely. He added that with a telehealth visit, the doctor may be able to assess a patient’s living conditions and determine how they help or hinder the patient’s health problem. Telemedicine and e-Health. “If the total number of visits far exceeds pre-Covid, I don’t think that’s sustainable,” she said. And as a group of experts in chronic neurological disorders recently noted in JAMA Neurology, “remote monitoring options, by offering reliable insights into issues that matter most to patients, will empower clinicians in delivering tailor-made counseling to patients via videoconferencing.”. Telemedicine … The biggest hurdle to widespread adoption by both the government and insurers is the potential cost. “From the perspective of managing the cost and quality, there’s a lot we don’t know about telemedicine,” said Dr. Rahul Rajkumar, the chief medical officer at Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina. Telemedicine offers a range of benefits for both patients and healthcare providers. is likely needed to confirm my exact problem, until the coronavirus threat eases and I can safely have the scan done, physical therapy exercises, also available via telemedicine, may alleviate it. BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee says it is the first major insurer to make coverage of telehealth services permanent, but it has not yet determined how much it will eventually pay for the care. Telemedicine was already a growing trend before 2020, with tech-savvy patients expecting increased flexibility, and healthcare providers looking for modern solutions to increase the efficiency of … “But there are some patients, especially elderly patients, who can’t get out of the house. Getty. A televisit is like having a videoconference with one’s doctor, with technology improving health care even in ways no one has yet thought of, Dr. Angela Fusaro, founder of Physician 360, a telemedicine company, told me. “It’s another fee, it’s another gating mechanism,” he said. Otherwise you can miss a lot.” Examples he gave included a lump in the breast, a heart murmur or a mass in the abdomen. Private insurers, which followed the federal government’s lead, could revert to paying doctors for virtual visits at a fraction of the cost for traditional visits, if anything at all. December 3, 2020 5 min read Opinions expressed by ... Telemedicine benefits for the patients include lower cost, improved access to healthcare, convenience, and … And private insurers see telemedicine as a way to save them money, said Sabrina Corlette, a research professor at Georgetown University, who helped author a recent report on how the companies responded to the pandemic. And patients are more relaxed and feel less rushed in their own homes.”. Since May, nearly 20 telemedicine bills have been brought to the House floor and about the same number in the Senate, said Miranda Franco, a senior policy adviser for the law firm Holland & Knight. “Before Covid,” Dr. Fusaro said, “telemedicine seemed like a luxury, but people are now thinking that a technology-based health care experience will become the new normal.” Even with a fee-for-service company like hers, getting telemedicine care might appeal to someone with medical insurance who prefers to avoid the time and expense involved in getting to a doctor’s office or urgent care clinic and paying a deductible, she suggested. “We’re taught in medical school that taking a medical history gives you 90 percent of the information you need, with the remaining 10 percent coming from the physical exam,” Dr. Baccash said. Center for Health + Technology and Department of Neurology, University of Rochester Medical Center, Rochester, NY 14642, USA. “There should be no single telemedicine policy,” Dr. Mehrotra said. For the benefit of us all, doctors as well as patients, let’s hope these new rules long outlast the pandemic. Not everything can be done virtually, he said. If a blood test is needed, I can have a lab technician come to their house.” Even X-rays can be done at home with a portable machine that can manipulate the images digitally, he said. Amidst the avalanche of reports concerning the … Even patients who have cellphones may not be able to afford a lengthy consultation, Dr. Levy said. Of all virtual visits post expansion, 56.2% and 17.6% urgent and nonurgent visits, respectively, were COVID-19–related. “Sooner or later, we have to examine patients in person,” he said. Separately, the telemedicine provider said its total visits have more than doubled to 7.6 million so far this year, as COVID-19 has pushed more people to try remote care. Between March 2nd and April 14th 2020, telemedicine visits increased from 102.4 daily to 801.6 daily. Telemedicine is having its moment. Following the recommendation by the Association of American Medical Colleges on March 17, 2020, to suspend clinical rotations in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, medical students searched for opportunities to continue their education and contribute to patient care. … May 11, 2020 Even if no other good for health care emerges from the coronavirus crisis, one development — the incorporation of telemedicine into routine medical care — … Eric J Topol. 2019 Feb 1;25(2):132-6. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29847224/ external icon. While some lawmakers favor permanently expanding Medicare payment for a broad range of telemedicine services, others are concerned about the technology’s cost and potential for fraud. E Ray Dorsey. This is the moment when we lay the foundation for telemedicine in the United States. 3 American Medical Association, 2020. When a fever sent Susan Varak, 45, who has breast cancer, to the emergency room during the height of Chicago’s outbreak in April, she felt as if she were “walking into this war zone,” she said, because she was so terrified of catching the virus. His parents, who are not fluent in English, prefer going to the doctor’s office because they find it easier to communicate in person, he said, and they have difficulty setting up video calls. She appreciates she still can see her oncologist remotely. Dr. Donnie Aga oversees telehealth at Kelsey-Seybold in Houston, which has seen telemedicine rise and fall in waves since the pandemic began. March telehealth visits surged 50% amid the coronavirus pandemic, according to research from Frost and Sullivan consultants. With coronavirus cases now at epidemic levels in Texas, the clinic wants to shift to dividing visits to half virtual, half in person. nine million people under traditional Medicare. In addition to federal spending through Medicare, nearly $4 billion was billed nationally for telehealth visits during March and April, compared to less than $60 million for the same two months of 2019, according to FAIR Health, a nonprofit group that analyzes private health insurance claims. Dr. Baccash said he strongly suspects that “when the virus goes away, some patients who have used telemedicine will prefer televisits to coming to the doctor’s office.” However, no matter how thorough such visits might be, he emphasized, “There’s no substitute for seeing a patient and examining them physically. 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