Consumers Are Looking For Greater Telehealth Access

Consumers Are Looking For Greater Telehealth Access

Consumers continue to wish for more virtual care options, creating better overall access to healthcare. According to a 2018 survey conducted by Ernst and Young, more than 50% of 2500 consumers are already using the telemedicine technology available to them through their healthcare providers. However most of these patients do not have access to all the telehealth options they are hoping for.

As consumers are more and more willing to use virtual portals for addressing healthcare needs, there is still an overall lack of accessibility to these virtual care options. In reality the next step in integrating telehealth into the healthcare sector is persuading physicians to adopt this technology into their own practices. A study conducted by Ernst and Young in 2018 surveyed 350 physicians, 64% of these physicians believe that the telemedicine technology will reduce physician and nurse burnout rates.

A physician shortage in the US has been an ongoing issue pushing physician burnout rates to increase. The rising amount of patients per physician is detrimental to the physician as well as the patient. Doctors must either work longer hours or spend less time with patients, causing quality of care to suffer.

Telehealth saves time for both the patient and doctor, and creates an easier way for physicians to manage, and care for a growing number of patients. It is no wonder that the current healthcare system is increasing its use of telehealth technology.

The consumers have spoken and they want virtual healthcare options. Now is the time for physicians to not only listen to their patients, but also use this technology to improve quality of care and their own quality of life by saving time and energy. If you would like to learn more about the benefits of implementing telehealth into your practice check out our other blog posts or Clocktree telehealth platform.

 

Florida Senate Approves Statewide Telehealth Bill

Florida Senate Approves Statewide Telehealth Bill

Last Wednesday in Tallahassee, Florida, a senate committee unanimously approved a bill on telehealth, focused on permitting doctors and healthcare providers using telehealth technology to provide healthcare directly to patients. Florida Senators Aaron Bean and Fernandina Beach worked tirelessly on five drafts of the bill, and in its success, it has earned the joke “fifth time’s the charm!” This appears to be true for the statewide legislation on telehealth, opening up doors for the up-and-coming healthcare industry.

The bill was created by a committee of 15 Florida senators who worked with a Telehealth Advisory Council that had made many recommendations toward the legislation.  A majority of these recommendations have been implemented into the legislation, like the requirement that health-care practitioners providing virtual care must be licensed. Intuitive changes like these as well as creating legislation with license requirements and overall regulations allows the telemedicine field to become a more legitimate and trustworthy healthcare sector.

This new telehealth measure bans using telemedicine platforms as a median to prescribe controlled substances for treating chronic pain, and will not allow patients to be certified for medical marijuana treatment virtually. These changes will undoubtedly be a benefit to many speculators of telemedicine who worry that increasing access to care will also increase access to, and abuse of, controlled substances.

Lastly, the bill requires equal insurance coverage and provider reimbursements for both in-person care as well as virtual care through telehealth. This is another win for the telehealth community, as a huge concern is whether insurance companies will cover virtual visits and remote care options. This has been a deterrent for both  providers and patients in the past and the new bill will help increase healthcare access throughout Florida State.

While no two states are alike when it comes to telehealth legislation, many are working with legislation that will provide equal coverage for both in person and virtual visits. 2018 continues to prove to be a year of success for telehealth and we at Clocktree are excited for what is to come!

 

Could Telehealth Services Help Stop the Opioid Crisis?

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The opioid crisis in America is hurting communities all around the country. Many people in need of treatment for opioid addiction live in rural areas without dedicated treatment centers. This lack of access in rural areas means the residents are not receiving treatment. So what can telemedicine to do help the opioid crisis?

On October 26, 2017, The White Housedeclared the opioid crisis a public health emergency and the administration acknowledged a need to expand treatment throughout rural areas specifically by making telemedicine more accessible. Jamey Lister from US News wrote an article on the possibilities of using telehealth technology to help reach rural areas suffering from the opioid crisis. Lister states that in 2015, people living in rural areas are four times more likely to die from an overdose than those living in the same area in 1999. With this increased OD rate, there is a need for opioid treatment programs that help patients stop abusing opioids and get on the road to long term recovery.

With a limited number of care clinics that provide such treatment programs there is a need to find alternative options to provide people access to care.  Access to telehealth services has enabled many patients to have the ability to discuss medication issues etc. One concern is that with videoconferencing, controlled substances cannot be prescribed through telehealth services without having an initial in person assessment.

There are some exceptions; such as allowing a person to videoconference their care provider from an affiliated clinic with clinic personal there with them. The emergency declaration may increase flexibility with such issues. All in all there is a need to provide treatment options to these rural areas as many are some of the hardest hit communities in the country.

Without increased care options there will continue to be horrendous death rates in these communities and a continuous loss of loved ones.

Telehealth services can help in more ways than just direct substance treatment options. A major part of recovery is therapy and counseling. Lacking access to care is a detrimental factor for these communities and increased care options could be a bright light during this dark time.

2017 A Ground Breaking Year for Telehealth

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2017 was a ground breaking year for the world of telehealth. More than 60% of all healthcare institutions in the US have implemented telehealth technology into their care systems. Access to online care has never been better. The ability to receive care remotely bridges large gaps in our healthcare system, and makes it easier for patients to be in contact with their providers.

Telehealth has helped provide access to people who have been unable to travel to care clinics, specifically during hurricane Irma Florida Hospital opened up telehealth access (as mentioned in our previous blog post) to people around the state who were unable to reach a physician but were in need of help. Online video evaluations helped providers respond to the people left stranded by the hurricane, and they were able to provide medical advice for injuries as well as other basic medical questions people around the state had.

A large variety of healthcare providers have implemented telehealth into their practices during 2017, from psychiatrists to dermatologists many providers are reaping the benefits of online care options. Although a large number of healthcare institutions provide online care platforms, there is still a hugely underserved population who lack access to healthcare.

2017 continued the forward movement of the telehealth sector, and 2018 is expected to be another year of great progress. More and more insurance companies are covering telehealth services and as the year moves forward a greater number of people will have easier access to healthcare. 2017 was a good year for telehealth, and we at Clocktree are excited to see what 2018 will bring.