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3 Telehealth Trends in the Public Sector

Veronica Culver, Director of Corporate Marketing, KBZ

February 25, 2015  |  Mobility + End User Devices  •  Telehealth  •  Wireless

Editors Note: As part of our ongoing series on telehealth, we are reaching out to our TED partners to get their take on the latest trends impacting telehealth adoption. Veronica Culver, Director of Corporate Marketing at KBZ, a Cisco Authorized Distributor, gives us her thoughts on the top three trends for public sector.

Telehealth – the use of telecommunications technologies and electronic information to provide healthcare  support over long distances – has been available for years, but is perhaps being under-utilized. As the demand for healthcare continues to outpace the supply of qualified physicians, and there is a need to improve care while reducing costs, telehealth could be the solution to bridge the gap. Here are three telehealth trends in the public sector.

Funding for Telehealth

On January 9, Government Technology reported that New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo signed legislation that “…expands the availability of telehealth services and requires insurers to cover the costs of those services.”

The legislation was sponsored by Assemblywoman Addie J. Russell and will bring essential medical services to rural and vulnerable communities who have been previously underserved. Mrs. Russell explained this is a landmark bill as the technology is available, “…but it would have gathered dust without a guarantee that physicians would be compensated for using it.”

On January 12, a bill drafted by members of the congressional “telehealth working group” was circulated in the House. This bill, called Advancing Telehealth Opportunities in Medicare, “would grant HHS more freedom to waive Medicare restrictions on reimbursements for telehealth services.”

Support for Veterans

Veterans who return home from active duty face the challenge of assimilating back into civilian life. Many are further faced with physical or psychological injuries suffered while in service. The Department of Veteran’s Affairs reports that VA telemedicine programs “…are treating more veterans, reducing hospital admissions and bed days of care, and saving money.”

Adam Darkins, MD, chief consultant for telehealth services, explained there are two trends in telemedicine services for veterans:

  • Telemental health – established by Veterans Affairs in 2010, this service was used by more than 1,000 veterans in 2013 for help with a range of issues including post-traumatic stress disorder.
  • Chronic disease management – more than 7,400 veterans used access to home telehealth to treat chronic conditions in 2013.

Telehealth Services for Students

In Missouri, there are few schools that have access to health care services to treat conditions like asthma, diabetes and psychological challenges. Last month, Rep. Kip Kendrick, D-Columbia, filed House Bill 340, a move to bring telehealth services to Missouri schools. Students will be able to connect to physicians and other healthcare practitioners via videoconference, eliminating long distance travel and wait times for treatment.

“One of the positions that gets cut frequently is the school nurses,” said Wendy Deibert, vice president of Mercy Telehealth Services. “So this will be a way to provide every school with access to healthcare.” Mercy Virtual Care Center is a 120,000-square-foot facility that will represent nearly 300 physicians. Mercy currently hosts a pilot telehealth school-based clinic at Roosevelt High School in St. Louis.

Connect with the author on Twitter @VeronicaCulver or LinkedIn Veronica Culver.

Want to learn more about Telehealth? Follow TED, our Telehealth Education Delivered truck, as it travels across the U.S. to hundreds of VA sites.  Schedule a stop at your VA site at www.ted2go.com.

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