Tag Archives: telehealth

Predicting the evolution of telehealth over the next decade

Photo by Tima Miroshnichenko via pexels.

Many of us have experienced how telehealth works today: Log on to a secure website and talk to your doctor or another care provider via video. But the technology is only predicted to expand and become more detailed over the next decade, according to recent news reports.

Journalists can find interesting stories on this topic by looking at current and predicted trends such as hybrid care combining in-person and virtual components, niche telehealth programs for specialty populations, and remote physical exams in which physicians will incorporate data collected by remote tools like glucose monitors, bathroom scales and spirometers (instruments to measure air capacity in the lungs).

Virtual care “helped define the pandemic” in many ways, Mike Brandofino, CEO of telehealth technology and services company Caregility, told Healthcare IT News in a recent article. “We witnessed a spectrum of solutions take place…from switching to Zoom for doctor appointments to health care professionals putting baby monitors in rooms to monitor patients, minimizing the use of dwindling PPE (personal protective equipment) supplies while reducing the number of times a caregiver had to enter a COVID unit.”

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Remote patient monitoring the next wave in telehealth

Photo via health.mil.Kathlyn Chassey uses a home healthcare kit as part of the COVID-19 Remote Monitoring Program, a joint effort of the Virtual Medical Center and Brooke Army Medical Center, in San Antonio, Dec. 18, 2020.

Telehealth wasn’t the only health care technology that took off during the COVID-19 pandemic. Remote patient monitoring — the use of mobile devices to monitor patient vital signs at home, plus in-home or virtual visits by health care providers — also has increased due to the public health emergency.

Before the pandemic, a big challenge for remote monitoring was helping large health care organizations, systems and plans to prioritize implementing virtual care technologies beyond just a pilot phase, Drew Schiller, co-founder and CEO of the technology firm Validic, said during a recent webinar hosted by the American Telemedicine Association.

“We were stuck in this endless cycle of trying things,” Schiller said. But once the pandemic hit, remote monitoring, telehealth and other technologies “immediately jumped to the forefront” and showed everyone how they could be used to scale remote care,” he said: “It was obviously a regrettable circumstance … but from a health care technology perspective, it has advanced the industry at least five years, if not a full decade, in a very short amount of time. Continue reading

Request to extend telehealth benefits for Medicare beneficiaries, and other story starters

There’s been a small flurry of stories and news updates on telehealth this summer.

On July 26, some 430 health systems, associations and companies sent a joint letter to Congress urging policymakers to extend telehealth benefits for Medicare beneficiaries beyond the COVID-19 public health emergency.

Prior to the start of the pandemic, Medicare only covered telehealth visits for its beneficiaries living in defined rural areas who initiated the call from a provider’s office, according to Kyle Zebley, vice president of public policy for the American Telemedicine Association (ATA), which is co-leading the effort. Thanks to provisions covered by legislation such as the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, telehealth became a covered service for all Medicare beneficiaries regardless of area of residence or where calls were initiated. But it was designed as a temporary measure. Unless it’s made permanent, cautioned the ATA and other letter writers, Medicare beneficiaries and providers who have become accustomed to the service could fall off what advocates call a “telehealth cliff.” Continue reading

Mental health services benefitting from telehealth expansion during pandemic

Facetime call screen

Photo: clappstar vis Flickr

Amid the mental and behavioral challenges fueled by COVID-19, expanded telehealth capabilities have contributed to a surge in mental health care. Use of the technology appears to have contributed to fewer no-show psychiatric and other counseling appointments among both new and existing patients and expanded access to care for patients in regions that pre-pandemic were bearing the brunt of the nation’s lack of mental health providers.

Once we’re safely past this pandemic, at least some emergency telemedicine expansions, granted through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and state governors, likely will remain. As that future is being sorted out, it’s important to consider what’s beneficial and what’s concerning about treating mental illnesses from a distance. Continue reading

Industry trade group points out potential stories in health information technology

Karen Groppe, senior director of corporate communications the Healthcare Information and Management System Society (HIMSS)

Karen Groppe

If you cover anything about health information technology (HIT), then you should know about Karen Groppe, senior director of corporate communications the Healthcare Information and Management System Society (HIMSS), the country’s leading HIT trade group.

I interviewed Groppe about stories journalists should be pursuing in HIT and how HIMSS can help.

She listed four topics that should take you through 2021 and beyond. Continue reading