At any given time there are several different languages being spoken in an emergency room.  Spouses, children, friends or relatives are usually there to interpret; but what happens when an interpreter is not immediately available?

Calling one over audio is an option; however, it can get extremely confusing handing phones back and forth while a remote third-party translates.  For the hearing impaired, Video Relay Services are an option; however, according to FCC regulations they are designated for telephone calls only and cannot be used when both hearing and hearing impaired parties are in the same room. 

Enter Video Remote Interpreting (VRI); a growing field that bridges the communication gap by translating spoken words into American Sign and other languages over video. An offsite interpreter hears the voices of those speaking and then relays the message into the camera which the other participant can hear or view on their screen. 

These services are extremely useful in hospital emergency rooms where quick communication between patients and caregivers is essential.  In smaller cities it can take a significant amount of time for an interpreter to arrive onsite; however, with VRI doctors and nurses can simply connect to a remote interpreter for instantaneous communication. 

A quick video from Paras and Associates explains how video is not only revolutionizing Telemedicine by providing access to medical specialists, but by providing immediate access to an interpreter.

Health care organizations throughout the world continue to implement telemedicine solutions at a growing rate to help extend the reach of health care. The benefits are enormous, for both the patient and the health care provider:

  1. No matter where a patient is located, they can gain access to the specialists they need to diagnose and treat their ailments.
  2. A health care provider can check in with patients remotely, helping to reduce costly re-admissions.
  3. In an emergency setting, a patient’s specialized needs can be responded to in a quicker, more efficient manner.

While the list of benefits is extensive; a major challenge of telemedicine is the economics behind it. Health care organizations have been able to offer telemedicine-based consults to patients for some time; however, the business of health care has not kept up.

Insurance organizations (including Medicare and Medicaid) did not offer parity for these visits versus a real-life encounter. Providers would find themselves being denied reimbursement for the telemedicine services that they had provided.

But as with many other technologies, the bureaucracy is catching up. Over the last several years there has been a shift throughout the US and “reimbursement equity” is now being offered for telemedicine consultations. Most recently, Maryland and Pennsylvania have joined the list of states signing such legislation into law. Maryland’s law is simple: Insurance companies must pay the same fee for telemedicine services that would otherwise be covered with an in-person visit.

State laws regarding telemedicine reimbursement differ. Currently, there are fourteen states with some form of reimbursement equity: California, Colorado, Georgia, Hawaii, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Virginia.

Medicare has its own policy as well. Generally, the reimbursement is on par with the same service when it is provided face-to-face. There are some limitations that include the location of the facility, eligible medical services, and the eligibility of providers and facilities.  To read specific rules relating to Medicare, click here.

Telemedicine reimbursement is a complex issue, but one clear trend is emerging: it is moving into the mainstream. With so many states already moving towards parity, it is only a matter of time before more follow. The result of this will be continued growth of telemedicine practices and patients gaining more access to the affordable, specialized healthcare they need.

Additional Resources:
Telemedicine Solutions Overview
Extend the Reach of Healthcare with Telehealth

Related Articles:
Sound Masking Your Way to Medicare Reimbursement
Baltimore Business Journal – Maryland law may spur video Dr. ‘visits’
Pennsylvania Governor Corbett Improves Access to Quality Health Care through Telemedicine Initiative


This year’s American Telemedicine Association Exposition kicked off last night with the latest in developments in the world of Telemedicine and Telehealth.  IVCi is exhibiting at booth 545 and this morning unveiled it’s new Telehealth cloud offerings.  These services are all about increasing the quality of care a patient can receive, no matter where they are.  Combining the best in hardware solutions with cloud based services, IVCi is able to provide any-to-any connectivity for patients, doctors, administrators, and more.

If you are attending the show, please come by booth 545 to check out what we are doing!

Additional Resources:

Press Release – IVCi Debuts Telehealth Cloud Solutions at ATA 2012
Brochure – IVCi Telehealth Solutions

Moving products to market quickly is the key to success for many pharmaceutical companies. Shortening the product development cycle ensures that companies benefit from the limited patent life that is typical for new drugs, and are compensated for the costs that are incurred during the developmental phase. Unified Communications (UC) solutions, including visual collaboration technology, enable communication with remote parties, creating the effect that all participants are sitting face-to-face, at the same table or in the same room.

UC solutions allow pharmaceutical companies to develop drugs sooner by:

  • Enabling face-to-face communication with remote parties during the crucial drug trial process.
  • Enhancing the quality and speed of decision-making, resulting in a reduction in travel related time and expenses.
  • Facilitating training, project reviews, and remote trial observation.
  • Allowing experts to collaborate more frequently with global subsidiaries.
  • Facilitating the ability of researchers and others participants to hold meetings with physicians, patients and government agencies.
  • Allowing all parties involved in the trial process to collaborate efficiently, and receive instant feedback.

The real time collaboration made possible by UC solutions allows pharmaceutical companies to more effectively partner with remote parties on research, promotion, and dissemination of new products. By enabling pharmaceuticals to bring products to market more quickly and efficiently, these companies realize revenue and profits earlier in the product development phase.

The Center for Digital Government has issued a brief detailing the use of cloud-based video collaboration in the public sector.  Many organizations are switching to the cloud not only for the cost savings, but for the realistic and efficient interactions video conferencing provides.  In fact, “about a quarter of government institutions in North America, Europe and Asia are already using the cloud, with another 36 percent investigating its use.”

The cloud offers an open a platform in which users can connect anytime, anywhere, with anyone, on any device.  Organizations no longer have to worry about differences in equipment; or the various platforms and networks citizens or other agencies are using. Cloud services allow for successful visual collaboration in a secure, reliable, consistent and easy to use manner; providing endless applications and benefits.

As a result, educators can easily bring engaging activities to the classroom; military personnel can report time-sensitive situations from the field so decisions can be made in real-time and healthcare experts can consult with patients thousands of miles away.  Cloud video extends an organization’s reach beyond previous geographical barriers allowing users to collaborate and make decisions quickly.

By utilizing video-as-a-service, public sector organizations can also avoid the upfront capital expenditures and management challenges associated with visual collaboration technologies.  Agencies can begin collaborating with colleagues, citizens and other agencies immediately; creating value and ROI almost instantaneously.   For example, Oakland County, Michigan’s judicial video program uses video conduct attorney-client meetings, arraignment hearings and telemedicine services.  This program has saved the county an estimated $38.4 million since its implementation four years ago.

Cloud video services provide an effective alternative; especially in a time where cost savings and increased communication are at a premium.

Additional Resources:
Video Collaboration Cloud