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6 Ways the Affordable Care Act Makes Telemedicine Crucial

Posted by Lawrence Kerr on Tue, Oct 22, 2013 @ 09:19 AM

"Health-care reform, a ballooning and aging population and a shortage of available family physicians may be a perfect storm that could blow the doors open for telehealth to go mainstream."

-- Brian Heaton, GovTech 

Despite recent fiascos in our nation's capitol, the Affordable Care Act is taking root. And regardless of where you fall politically, there is one thing that is clear: the ACA may really boost telemedicine. We've been keeping our eye on the regulatory side of things, so here is our rundown... 

6 reasons the Affordable Care Act makes telemedicine (even more) crucial:

  1. High demand. It's estimated that the healthcare system will see an influx of more than 30 million newly insured patients. Those patients' needs may be best met with a combination of telemedicine and conventional solutions. 
  2. Provider shortage. The ACA's provisions increase demand while not addressing the provider shortage (particularly of primary care doctors), making telemedicine-based visits are care coordination crucial. 
  3. Better reimbursement and funding. The bill provides several explicit provisions increasing funding and easing reimbursements for telehealth.  
  4. Need for medical home and meaningful use. It's not enough to use EMRs, as we all know -- it has to be meaningful use.
  5. Shared cost and outcomes-driven models. A focus on outcomes (rather than treatments) and a shared cost model means that the care coordination, collaboration, and savings that telemedicine can provide will be crucial for hospital systems and providers. As Dr. Brian Rosenfeld, Chief Medical Officer at Philips Healthcare, said, "Telehealth offers the opportunity to provide the access, quality and cost that will be necessary to increase prevention and leverage our current workforce."
  6. Technology is less of a barrier. Although this factor isn't directly related to the ACA, it is a trend happening at the same time. Every year, technology -- broadband, collaboration platforms, cameras, computers -- get a little more widespread and a little easier to use. For instance, every doctor has the tools for using iClickCare in their office, and most have it in their pocket.
Want to give telemedicine a try without hassle or a big rollout?
Try the iClickCare 14-day evaluation

Tags: medical collaboration, coordinated care, collaboration, accountable care, telemedicine roi, affordable care act, telemedicine law

Should the government regulate medical apps? You decide.

Posted by Lawrence Kerr on Thu, Jul 11, 2013 @ 08:41 AM

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Here at ClickCare, we have a big vision but generally focus on the people and the world around us. We work to serve our patients, innovate in ClickCare, and partner with our customers.

The truth is, though, that medicine is increasingly impacted by the "big picture" we're surrounded by. Everything from new HIPAA rules to Medicaid reimbursement changes affect how we care for our patients and collaborate with each other. 

So when Melissa McCormack, Managing Editor of Software Advice, reached out to us about a poll she's conducting regarding one of these big picture issues, we wanted to share it with you. Melissa presents an in-depth look at the proposed FDA regulation of medical apps (a category ClickCare falls into.)

Since we're passionate about collaboration, we're certainly going to be curious how you all ring in on the question: to regulate or not to regulate?

As noted in the article, this debate is big business. Just 5 interested firms spend over $20 million for lobbying. When regulatory issues come up, we also notice the ways that EMR/EHR companies essentially use government regulation as marketing, as covered in this New York Times investigative report. It is extremely expensive to join or have your EMR certified by the CCHIT, a situation that creates an insider's club of large multinational companies. In fact, its core members are the same large companies that lobbied for the EMR... and some of the same companies are signors of the letter to delay regulation of medical apps.

Our conclusion is that while we worry about regulation, at least it is open, defined and democratic. The FDA's initial proposals, simplified, are quite reasonable. If it touches a patient (extends a physical device) -- regulate. If it interprets data in an automatic way (highs lows, outside of bounds) -- regulate. If it is a source of information with human control and interpretation (a reference book) -- don't regulate.

So however you feel about the issue, head on over to the poll on FDA regulation on medical apps... and make yourself heard.

In the meantime, try iClickCare for yourself. And let us know your comments about this blog article, and any topics you would like to see covered in upcoming Blog articles.

iClickCare for the iPad 2.0! 

Tags: medical collaboration, iPhone medical apps, telemedicine law

California's Telehealth 2011 Law: Comments and References.

Posted by Lawrence Kerr on Tue, Nov 29, 2011 @ 06:29 AM

It’s been six weeks since California passed Bill AB 415. The new law, California Telehealth Advancement Act of 2011 gives providers in California more choice in how to best collaborate on behalf of their patients.

This blog posting will highlight points about the California law and telemedicine:

  • The vision of the legislation and how it will make patient care better.
  • The limited interpretation of the true potential of the law by many commentators.
  • How the inclusion of store and forward technology in the law is important.

California leads with new telemedicine law

The Center of Connected Health Policy offers a focused review of what the law does and does not do.  This single page is remarkable for its clarity and brevity.

Obvious, but rarely stated, are three paragraphs expressing a strong vision about telemedicine and telehealth directly quoted from Section 2:

(e) Telehealth is a mode of delivering health care services and public health utilizing information and communication technologies to enable the diagnosis, consultation, treatment, education, care management, and self-management of patients at a distance from health care providers.

(i) Consumers of health care will benefit from telehealth in many ways, including expanded access to providers, faster and more convenient treatment, better continuity of care, reduction of lost work time and travel costs, and the ability to remain with support networks.

(k) Without the assurance of payment and the resolution of legal and policy barriers, the full potential of telehealth will not be realized

Just as a toddler learns basic behaviors such as please and thank you, these three (of ten paragraphs) define the value (and that value will be manifest by ROI) that any health care provider, agency or institution should learn. It is a vision of better access, collaboration and education.

Portions of the law, and many of the commentators view the purpose of telemedicine as providing for the underserved and the rural.

(g) The use of information and telecommunication technologies to deliver health services has the potential to reduce costs, improve quality, change the conditions of practice, and improve access to health care, particularly in rural and other medically underserved areas.

Sometimes Telehealth wins.

But, a deeper, wider and more comprehensive vision must be developed. 

Why? It is never good to be sick. It is never convenient to be sick. It is even more inconvenient to maintain health. Everyone regardless of richness or poorness, high or low IQ, rural or urban deserves coordinated, collaborative care. Care management is equally the right of the CEO as the homeless child. The inner city tenant suffers the same as the rural migrant. The too busy entrepreneur faces the same constraints of place and time as the uninsured food service worker. Unfortunately, each faces the same challenge in receiving the right care, at the right time, from the right (and conferring) care giver. Each of us, all of us, should expect good care and encourage the use of telehealth and telemedicine to get it. When we have it, we have safe, efficient, cost effective and holistic care. That is what we used to have, it is what we need now, and with such good legislation, what we can expect in the future.

There are a lot of lessons in this law.  Next we look forward to discussing the immense value of Store and Forward technology.  iClickCare is a leading example of this.

Click meA focused review and set of references are here.  They are both a starting place and a quick review.

Tags: telemedicine, telehealth, store and forward, collaboration leadership, telemedicine law

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