Tag: telemedicine

MassHealth Partners with Maven To Offer Immediate Free Access To Telemedicine During COVID-19

Maven, the largest telemedicine provider for women’s and family health, announced a new partnership with MassHealth, the Massachusetts, Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program. MassHealth will provide free telemedicine appointments for members with COVID-19 symptoms with Maven’s network obstetric/gynecologists, maternal fetal medicine specialist, pediatricians, family physicians, and general practitioners for women and families in Massachusetts.

MassHealth members will be connected through an online navigation tool to Maven providers through on-demand chat and video appointments 24 hours a day through the use of any web-enabled device.

“During the COVID-19 emergency, MassHealth has made unprecedented efforts to eliminate barriers to health care access, including expansive coverage of telehealth services,” said Acting Medicaid Director Amanda Cassel Kraft. “We are excited to announce this partnership with Maven ?to provide medical support to our members seeking guidance on COVID-19 symptoms or risk factors.”

In the wake of COVID-19, women and families are dealing with a myriad of health concerns, from managing conditions related to a high risk pregnancy to being discharged from hospitals soon after giving birth to caring for a newborn. Telehealth now plays an essential role in giving these women and families the support and care they need from the safety of their own homes.

“This pandemic has raised serious concerns for millions of women who are pregnant or have just given birth,” said Kate Ryder, founder and CEO of Maven. “We have doctors available around the clock to support MassHealth members and alleviate the burden on the healthcare system during this public health crisis. Massachusetts has long been a leader in healthcare and other states should look to their innovative response to this crisis as a model.”

With the incredible demand for care, trusted clinical data and information, and resources around COVID-19, Maven has developed dedicated COVID-19 resources. This includes:

For more information on accessing Maven via your MassHealth benefits, please visit https://www.mavenclinic.com/masshealth.

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HIPAA Waiver Offers Physicians Opportunity To Engage Patients In New Ways, But Documentation Is Key

The HIPAA waiver issued for telemedicine during COVID-19 is a game-changer for physicians now that CMS says virtual visits are reimbursable.

And now, telehealth is emerging as an effective and sustainable solution for precaution, prevention, and treatment to stem the spread of COVIS-19. But what do the new HIPAA waiver and CMS rule about telemedicine during COVID-19 mean?

According to Dr. Neil Baum, chief medical advisor at Vanguard Communications, professor of Clinical Urology at Tulane Medical School, and in clinical practice for 40+ years, the glass is half full.

“Telemedicine is a great opportunity for us to fill our glass and engage our patients in a way we never have before. We’re still able to practice good medicine without having to be face to face or touching a patient,” says Dr. Baum.

Telehealth is bridging the gap between people, physicians, and health systems, enabling everyone, primarily symptomatic patients, to stay at home and communicate with physicians through virtual channels, helping to reduce the spread of the virus to mass populations and the medical staff on the frontlines.

For healthcare professionals, this news means that CMS now allows providers to be reimbursed for the vast majority of virtual visits using telemedicine during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Only a small number qualified for reimbursements as recently as March 14.)

Plus, no special software or extra expense for healthcare-specific hardware and software is needed. The tools are free and easy to use.

Below is a chart of the popular apps approved for telemedicine during COVID-19.

Dr. Baum says telemedicine will go a long way to enhancing a physician’s connection with patients and providing access to care but stresses the importance of documenting virtual visits and video conversations just as you would an in-office appointment.

“If you didn’t document, then you didn’t do it, and then you don’t get paid for it,” says Dr. Baum.

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Use of Telemedicine To Surge In U.S. As Regulations Change In Response To Coronavirus

Use of telemedicine in the U.S. has been low to date. However, asexpected, it is expected that demand for these services will increase dramatically over the next few months because of the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis, says GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company.

Telemedicine has been touted as a critical strategy during the COVID-19 emergency to limit the risk of person-to-person transmission of the virus, prevent emergency rooms from being inundated, reduce barriers to screening, and allowing those with moderate symptoms to be treated from home. Teladoc Health, a telehealth provider, announced that patient visit volume had increased by 50% since the previous week and was continuing to rise.

Kathryn (Gleeson) WhitneyKathryn Whitney, MSc, director of thematic analysis at GlobalData, said: “Prior to the COVID-19 crisis, telemedicine had never reached its full potential in the US, with several barriers preventing its widespread uptake. These include lack of reimbursement and restrictions affecting access for rural populations, general lack of awareness of these services, and the desire of the sick to see their physician in person.”

Since early March, regulations in the US governing the use of telemedicine have changed regularly, which will expand access to services during the COVID-19 emergency, particularly for Medicare beneficiaries who are deemed at high risk for the virus. In certain states, including California and New York, officials have also announced that payers must offer telehealth services as part of their emergency plans. In Massachusetts, payers must cover the COVID-19 testing and treatment via telehealth, and cannot impose cost sharing via co-pays, deductibles, or coinsurance, and prior authorization is not required to receive treatment via telehealth.

Whitney continues: “Recent changes to regulations by the U.S. government will remove many of the financial barriers to telehealth and drive the use of these services, particularly among older and vulnerable populations. People will also become more aware of these types of services, given amount of information being disseminated by the government, hospitals, healthcare systems and payers.

“As more U.S. cities and states begin to lock down and social distancing becomes the new normal for the foreseeable future, Americans are likely to change their views on telemedicine. With the ongoing risk of virus transmission, people will be eager to avoid hospitals and get screened and receive care from the safety of their own homes.”

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Telemedicine’s Essential Role For Hospitals and Healthcare Systems Battling COVID-19

By Dr. Jason Hallock, MD, chief medical officer, SOC Telemed.

R. JASON HALLOCK, MD, MMM
Dr. Jason Hallock, MD

On March 13, President Trump declared the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic a national emergency. The declaration opens more than $42 billion in federal funding to combat the virus by expanding resources in key areas, including telehealth across the nation. While COVID-19 is novel there’s nothing new about telehealth solutions that are now moving to the forefront care in light of this virus.

Funding will support an increase in COVID-19 testing and expand telehealth services to virtually care for patients. HHS can waive licensing regulations to allow out-of-state physicians to treat patients via telehealth wherever outbreaks occur. And, critically, the declaration of emergency allows for $500 million in Medicare waivers for telehealth restrictions.

The action comes at a critical moment, as the U.S. health care system is confronted for the first time in its modern history with the possibility of a hospital capacity crisis. If too many COVID-19 positive cases descend on our hospitals at once, we could be in the unenviable position of lacking the onsite equipment, the beds, tests, staff and other resources to provide life-saving care for all. Such dark medical realities are already true elsewhere in the world.

As the contents of the national emergency declaration show, telemedicine is poised to play a key role in the fight against COVID-19. It’s not by accident.

While the virus spread rapidly to pandemic status, the reality is that the healthcare industry long anticipated the possibility of a fast-spreading global contagion. As we in the industry planned for the possibility of such an event, telemedicine was always among the solutions.

The role of telemedicine in the time of a pandemic is not an experiment or for use in a limited trial—it’s actively being used to treat COVID-19 today. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) continues to urge doctors and hospitals first to assess potentially infected patients remotely whenever possible, and to care for patients with mild COVID-19 symptoms from home using virtual check-ins.

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How Are Virtual Hospitals Changing The Future of Healthcare

group of doctors walking on hospital hallwayRapidly advancing technology has made its presence felt in many branches of the healthcare sector, causing dramatic and drastic changes. Healthcare professionals today rely on technology in many different ways – from maintaining documents and keeping records to optimizing patient out-times and remote treatments. Not to mention the ability to provide more accurate diagnoses.

After years of effort to sort out PR, regulatory, and reimbursement challenges, telemedicine appears to be on the right track of becoming commonplace, ready to represent a sizable portion of care delivery. That near-term future has crafted a new term – virtual hospitals.

Catch the definition, if you can

Now, what does that term actually mean? We’re certainly talking about telemedicine, but that can mean a lot of different things to different people. Is it about iPad chats between doctors and rural patients, or about the implementation of IoT technology for AI-powered remote monitoring? The fact is that even professionals who’ve been involved with connected health technologies for over 20 years are not able to catch the definition by its tail.

The meaning behind “virtual hospital” usually varies by organization. In most cases, it stands for the group of intensive care physicians who are working in a call center environment. There’s a lot of screens and technology involved, but mostly to guide other users in remote places. Many smaller institutions, besides the fact that they’re difficult to reach, also don’t have full-time specialists. Doctors from virtual hospitals can prevent the waste of time by guiding the staff through medical procedures in an emergency or in critical cases.

Other organizations have embraced the concept of virtual hospitals as central freestanding facilities staffed with healthcare professionals. The best-known example of this concept is the St.Louis-based Mercy Virtual Care Center, opened in 2015 and labeled as the first virtual hospital. Their aim is to reduce the time it takes patients to meet their healthcare providers, but also to eliminate the need for very sick patients to come into hospitals frequently.

Efficient access across the globe

The term ?virtual? may not be the best pick since it sounds like it’s not real, while the provided care is very real. The point is that clinicians can be located anywhere across the globe. Although almost none of them dub themselves as a virtual hospital, around 65% of U.S. hospitals connect patients and practitioners remotely.

On the other hand, a recent survey carried out in Australia has shown that nearly 50% would never visit a virtual hospital. And this is not just because they have Medicare – it’s also about the lack of knowledge on the topic, resulting in the fear that they won’t get the same quality of care as an in-office visit.

To spread across the globe, it’s obvious that this puzzling term needs to be pinned down and explained. So, what does it all boil down to? Its core value is about two things — access and efficiency, and they need to work together.

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Healthcare Cloud Ahead: Top 8 Benefits of The Coming Healthcare-Cloud Merger

Cloud, Memory, Storage Medium, Technology, InternetBy Abhinav Shashank, CEO, Innovaccer.

Rising healthcare promises have been tied to cloud technology in the most recent tech-talks of the town. While the majority of care providers are not holding their breath due to previous disappointments, we wanted to translate the often vague statements made into discrete simplified processes for healthcare.

Healthcare is riding a wave of digital transformation that has brought about revolutionary processes of data management and care delivery. Moving from paper-based records to a digital format, the first wave took us from disconnected facility-based care to integrated smart care with increased coordination and population health activity.

The second wave enabled better patient experience with omnichannel communications and interoperable data sharing applications. Empowering patients and clinicians with analytics, the recent wave has health organizations leveraging real-time data-driven solutions, artificial intelligence, and cloud services to align with the culture of preventive and wellness-centric care.

The cloud will be central to future digital transformations in healthcare. What is uncertain for many is what specific, new cloud services will be developed and why are healthcare organizations now – and foreseeable future continuing – to opt for cloud-based technologies.

Why are health organizations leveraging the cloud?

We have been in the process of transitioning from fee-for-service to value-based care over the past decade. The industry is further planning to move from disease-based episodic care to preventive care in future years. To achieve that goal, several additional factors need to progress.

The healthcare system of the future will be more consumer-centric and value-driven. It will use real-time data to generate actionable insights, and data technology will play a crucial role. Cloud technology promises to improve performance enhancement and healthcare data analytics overall.

Health systems have a need for increased data capacity, and the cloud promises almost unlimited data storage, easy accessibility, and enhanced cybersecurity. As health organizations are expanding into a variety of digitized services such as virtual care, wearable devices, telemedicine, and smart AI assistance, the data per patient expands.

The cloud is a single point of access to patient information, to multiple doctors and medical services at the same time, that boosts not only real-time coordination but also ensures data security for hospitals and patients.

Gartner, in a recent healthcare cloud services report, highlighted how provider leadership has moved from skepticism to acceptance of the cloud as a service delivery model. In what ways is the cloud benefiting the healthcare industry?

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Addressing The Mental Health Access Gap Through Texting and Virtual Care

By Justin Hunt, MD, MS, head of psychiatry, Ginger.

Justin Hunt

From banking to healthcare to grocery delivery—businesses and organizations across multiple industries are pivoting to leverage text messaging as a way to reach consumers. And in behavioral healthcare, text-based coaching is paving the way for increased access to support. Traditionally, mental healthcare providers have only offered in-person appointments for individuals seeking care. Today, virtual services like teletherapy and telepsychiatry are gradually growing in popularity among an increasingly tech-savvy population. Now, services like text-based behavioral health coaching offer another meaningful way for individuals to get in-the-moment care.

Consumer Expectations Have Shifted

Consumers today expect instant access to mobile-first, on-demand services. A recent survey by the Harris Poll on behalf of Ginger revealed that Americans–especially Millennials–are more comfortable with the idea of being able to text for mental health support as a way to get access to care. Two-thirds of Americans (66%) say that if they were struggling with stress or life challenges, they would prefer to text immediately with a certified mental health coach who is trained to provide support if given the choice, while 34 percent would choose to wait three weeks to meet with a licensed therapist in person. This trend is strongest with the Millennial population: 69 percent would prefer to text immediately with a professional rather than wait to meet in-person.

For many consumers, a chat-based solution may be less intimidating as a first step than going in-person to see a licensed professional. Coaching is emerging as a way for individuals to access support in overcoming day-to-day challenges, reach goals, and learn skills to reduce stress. While not licensed like a traditional provider, coaches do have credentials like coaching certifications or master’s- and doctoral-level backgrounds in mental and behavioral health. And just this year, the American Medical Association approved new codes for health and well-being coaching. Individuals can work with coaches alongside a therapist and psychiatrist to receive support between appointments and sustain the progress they’re making toward personal growth. Coaching is also effective as a preventative layer of mental healthcare. At Ginger, 68 percent of our members are non-severe and don’t require intensive therapy or medication management.

Text-based Chat is the New Normal

The younger generations that are digital natives have grown up with texting and chatting online as a regular, highly expressive form of communication. It comes as no surprise that they would be comfortable expressing themselves in this way to mental healthcare providers. For them, text-based chat with a coach can help them find meaning and healing. Additionally, both therapy and psychiatry are episodic in nature—with clinicians meeting clients bi-weekly or monthly. But as I’ve found in my work as a psychiatrist, life does not operate on that schedule.

While clients might demonstrate an overall trajectory of improvement, unexpected mini-crises in between appointments can slow down improvement. Immediate coaching intervention at the exact time of need helps to address these natural setbacks that occur between therapy or psychiatry visits. In addition to handling acute issues, coaching can offer a helpful longitudinal approach to goal setting. For example, coaches can check in with clients between clinical visits and remind them of healthy sleep hygiene techniques or provide light motivational interviewing to help an individual reduce alcohol consumption.

Scaling Care to Meet Demand

As mental health stigma decreases, more people are actively seeking services. Earlier this year, in partnership with Dimensional Research, Ginger surveyed more than 1,200 U.S. workers and found that a growing number of workers are proactively seeking out mental healthcare. Fifty percent of workers said they are more likely to seek help now than they were five years ago and 85 percent reported that behavioral health benefits are important when evaluating a new job.

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5G and Patient Care

By Alaap Shah, JD, MPH, and Ebunola Aniyikaiye, JD, MBA, MPP, Epstein, Becker, Green.

Alaap Shah

Patient care in the U.S. continues to modernize through rapid digitization, increasing connectivity among the internet of things (“IOT”). Supporting a robust infrastructure that allows for large scale flow of information through interconnected systems requires modernization of network technologies. One such technology advance is 5G.

5G is similar to its predecessor wireless technologies, such as 3G, 4G and LTE, but promises to have the capability to transmit 10 to 100 times more data than 4G in the same amount of time. 5G will also overcome issues related to latency, capacity, and customization that currently plague predecessor technologies. As the roll out of 5G progresses, the health industry is considering its potential impact of 5G on the healthcare ecosystem. Many believe that 5G will revolutionize healthcare delivery, and ultimately contribute to improved patient care. 5G appears poised to impact healthcare by facilitating faster and more seamless transmission of patient information at much larger volume than possible today. As such, 5G can improve patient care by facilitating Artificial Intelligence (“AI”), enabling remote care paradigms, and improving access to care.

Ebunola Aniyikaiye

One sector that will benefit from 5G’s ability to allow for fast and voluminous data transmission is AI. AI technologies are powered by algorithms that process complex and large data sets at exceptional speeds.  With the arrival of 5G, health organizations may be better positioned to implement AI solutions directly into their delivery of care models. Advances in AI coupled with the power of 5G would foster care delivery that is data-rich and data-driven to improve quality of care and outcomes.

Additionally, adoption of 5G will likely increase access to high-quality care, by supporting remote care paradigms in the health industry. For example, remote radiological imaging and remote robotic surgery will likely thrive in the 5G world. The secure transport of extremely large, high-resolution image data is required for successful use of these technologies. The capacity of 5G to transmit these types of data at scale in a real-time or near-real time fashion will likely be transformative. Patients will be able to gain access to care from specialists they otherwise could not have had access to previously. For the same reasons, 5G will further untether providers from historical brick and mortar facilities such as hospitals and clinics.

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The Opportunities and Challenges of Data Analytics In Healthcare

By Anita Fernandes.

Data analytics is the next step in the evolution of healthcare as it uses data-driven findings to predict and address health issues. Healthcare data analytics can also help to keep track of inventory and access methods and treatments faster than conventional systems. Data analytics is often paired with health information exchanges (HIEs) to provide safer and more personalized care based on patients’ medical history, chronic conditions and medications. Healthcare data analytics software extracts, translates and synthesizes vast amounts of data to reduce costs, involve patients more in their own health and wellness and improve patient outcomes.

Opportunities and practical applications of data analytics in healthcare

Data analytics in healthcare relies on big data (vast quantities of digitized information) that gets consolidated and analyzed. The application of data analytics in healthcare has life-saving outcomes as it uses data of a subset or a particular individual to prevent potential epidemics, cure diseases and cut down on healthcare costs. Here are a few of the opportunities and practical applications of data analytics in healthcare.

  1. Predictive analytics for personalized treatments

Predictive data analytics is the process of using historical data in order to make predictions that are personalized to each individual. Typically, analytics tools use information from millions of patients to help doctors make data-driven decisions and improve the delivery of care. Predictive data analytics helps to identify individuals who are at an elevated risk of developing chronic conditions based on lab tests, biometric data and patient-generated health data. Physicians can provide insight on lifestyle changes, wellness activities and enhanced services that can help patients avoid long-term health problems. This is particularly useful for patients with complex medical histories and suffering from multiple conditions,

  1. Data analytics to advance telemedicine

Data analytics and telemedicine go hand in hand as it helps to empower physicians and patients and offers opportunities for remote patient monitoring and remote clinical services. Smart devices are the future of telehealth monitoring as they monitor a patient’s vitals in real-time and communicate with other devices and cloud health information systems based on data analytics to alert physicians about potential problems and provide analysis on possible interventions. Data analytics in telemedicine can help to predict acute medical events – this doctors to alter medication dosages to avert negative outcomes and prevent deterioration of patients’ conditions. Telemedicine also cuts down on costs, reduces the need for hospital visits and allows patients to live healthier and more comfortable lives.

  1. Data analytics for real-time alerting

Hospitals have started employing clinical decision support (CDS) software that analyzes medical data on the spot and provides health care experts with suggestions as they make prescriptive decisions. However, in cases where patients are unable to make frequent hospital visits, doctors recommend wearables that collect patients’ data and send it to the cloud continuously. This data is analyzed continuously so that the system can identify potential problems and send real-time alerts to physicians. Doctors can then contact patients immediately to administer medications to prevent problem escalation.

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Technology and the Evolution of Care

By Dr. Michael Blackman, medical director, population health and analytics, Allscripts.

Michael Blackman
Dr. Michael Blackman

As healthcare delivery continues to evolve, healthcare technology needs to be there to support it. But, how will technology facilitate healthcare as we move forward?

Healthcare accessibility, especially for certain populations, continues to be problematic. The expansion of telemedicine has the potential to improve access, especially for populations that have difficulty accessing care, such as those with mobility or transportation issues.

Additionally, looking from a primary care standpoint alone, a fair percentage of patient visits can be conducted remotely while continuing to insure care quality. Telemedicine can extend a clinician’s reach by freeing up office time for those who gain extra benefit from being seen in person. However, the technology must support both the clinician and patient interaction, while not creating new barriers.

Potential barriers can come not just from factors implicit in the technology, but from the way it is implemented as well. For example, simple things such as a clinician needing to turn his or her back to a patient to access the system disrupts the clinician/patient relationship. Workflow considerations need to be front and center for all technology-related changes.

Leverage what you have – especially the data

There’s continually a desire to pursue the next shiny object, the next buzzword, the next big technology. But it comes down to why? What are you trying to accomplish with new technology that you can’t already do today? If it serves a strategic goal, then the new technology may be highly beneficial, but have you optimized what you are using now?

Electronic health records (EHRs) and other healthcare technology have brought us a plethora of data, but how many of us are using this data effectively?

The original goal of capturing data in EHRs was to improve care. We need to use that data to understand and improve care delivery. Sometimes that requires new technology, but whether one is using new technology or not, improving care requires a change in the way business is conducted.

Are AI and machine learning the future of healthcare?

Both AI and machine learning are likely to be integral components of healthcare’s future, but the underlying culture and business framework supporting these technologies will determine if we are able to get the most from them. Differences in organizational culture and business processes often explain why some succeed and others fail using the same technology.

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