Telemedicine – The Cure for Remote Care
I recently heard a news story on NPR about Texas and their shortage of psychiatrists and the need for telemedicine in remote parts of the state. This seems to be a common problem in the healthcare industry across the US, not just isolated to Texas.
As a healthcare solutions provider, Level 3 Audiovisual is constantly thinking of ways to alleviate strain on doctors, hospitals, care centers and learning facilities. We feel strongly that telemedicine and video conferencing bring solutions to many problems associated with shortages in healthcare providers. One of the challenges we face is getting our government, individual care providers and doctors to adapt to new technologies and approaches.
Out of the 254 counties in Texas, 185 lack a resident psychiatrist in their county. That averages out to 3.2 million people who don’t have easy access to psychiatric care. Even servicing half of this population with remote telemedicine could have a tremendous impact.
One of the best uses for telemedicine is psychiatric care. Since doctors do not need to be physically present with the patient they can use high definition cameras, smart phones or tablet technology to conduct remote video sessions with patients. This provides a fantastic service to the community by alleviating many pain points that deny psychiatric care in the first place such as the time and cost of travel to remote locations.
A scenario we commonly see that can be enhanced with telemedicine is a doctor who manages several offices. For example 3 offices in different counties. Rather than spread themselves thin by commuting between offices, they can have nurses on staff at each location and dial in when needed for remote care. Everything from administering prescriptions to updating patient records can be conducted remotely and secured in the cloud.
By using this “remote or mobile doctor’s office” a doctor or care facility can have numerous “micro” offices that are run by a smaller staff or a single nurse who assists the doctor when needed.
How else can telemedicine be used? We had a local hospital that was paying upwards of $50,000 to fly patients in for burn treatments from other counties in the state. Now, with telemedicine, a burn specialist can evaluate the patient remotely, zoom in on the wounds in high definition and give the staff proper care instructions without transporting the patient. This has saved hospitals and patients time, money and discomfort, as well as providing immediate, and in some cases, lifesaving trauma care.
But what about billing? Well, most insurance plans now cover telemedicine. It’s just a matter of the doctor, care facility or hospital setting the right pieces in motion to get on board with telemedicine so they are in compliance with regulations and can be reimbursed accurately.
Telemedicine solutions come in all shapes and sizes. From hard wired PTZ cameras to wireless systems on carts to remote controlled robotics with iPads. Each alternative has its use cases and all can not only save the industry millions of dollars annually but can provide a much needed service to remote communities lacking resources.
Level 3 Audiovisual offers many solutions for healthcare providers that can save you time and money. Click here for a free consultation.