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

Video conferencing benefits managers of remote workers in several ways, including strengthening relationship through face-to-face communications. But what are some other ways managers can use video to increase motivation among geographical dispersed teams?

Collaborative goal setting.

Participation in the goal setting process increases both employee commitment and goal attainment as employees accept greater ownership and responsibility. During this process, managers should make sure goals and incentives are aligned with the firm’s overall mission and goals. For example, paying a bonus based on quantity of work produced is counterproductive if the firm’s goals are based on quality of work produced.

After goals have been set, managers should review performance on a quarterly or even monthly basis. Periodic feedback about progress improves performance and accomplishment of goals because potential issues or areas for improvement are addressed rather than put off until the next review period.  This allows employees to immediately correct their actions thereby increasing performance. Additionally, periodic reviews allow managers to strengthen relationships with their team members through open and honest communications.

Here are a few additional tips regarding goals:

  1. Difficult goals produce better performance but people may abandon goals they perceive as impossible.
  2. Specific and measurable hard goals are more effective than “do your best” goals.
  3. In teams, individual goals can produce negative results as employees become more competitive and less cooperative.

The last piece of the puzzle revolves around possible incentives for achieving goals. While monetary bonuses are typically the “go to” choice; they are not always feasible nor the most effective in motivating employees. Studies have shown that when tasks become more complicated individuals are more motivated by the opportunity to work on more challenging projects than a monetary reward. An interesting video from RSA Animate goes into a little more detail about the surprising things that really motivate us.

The bottom line is, encourage participation in the goal setting process and get creative when developing rewards. Not only will productivity and performance improve, employees will be happier and more fulfilled with their job.

 

“You can have brilliant ideas, but if you can’t get them across, your ideas won’t get you anywhere.” - Lee Iacocca

The Overlooked Benefit of Video

As a manager in the marketing department I have the opportunity to oversee a team of people who are all dedicated to helping push the power of video and its advantages across several industries.

Part of the marketing process includes coordinating campaigns and messaging across multiple locations. Creative ideas also need to continuously flow back and forth.  As a result, I am on video with several of my remote team members multiple times during the day.

What struck me this week is that I don’t even realize that I am speaking to someone who is thousands of miles away.

The power of video has made it possible to bring the entire marketing team together (located across three time zones and four states) and brainstorm ideas as if they were all sitting right next to me.  I can’t count the number of times a light bulb has gone off for me or a member of the team and I’ve seen that “AH HA” moment right in front of me, in glorious HD video.

It is very easy to get lost in the technology and its practical use cases; such as capturing a remote deposition, monitoring a manufacturing line, or managing a sales team. But what we cannot forget is the power of video to unify people and ideas.  When a team is able to come together and share their ideas there comes a point when a great idea or thought can take on a life of its own.  The idea itself becomes something even more powerful when everyone “gets it.”

Calculating the financial ROI of a VC/UC investment is certainly important. But when thinking about what you currently get out of your video conferencing investment or what you could get out of the technology, do not forget to include the human factor. This technology can break down barriers for your remote teams and allow them to work as a collective unit, in a way you never thought possible.

Using Video to Improve Work/Life Balance on the Road

You’re sitting in your hotel room and sigh: another missed baseball game. You start thinking of all the defining moments you’ve missed in your child’s life.  From the first words, to the first day of school, to a straight A’s report card; you can’t help but feel you’re missing out. 

Even though travel has been reduced through visual collaboration solutions at work; you still travel frequently because, let’s face it, you can’t do everything over video. Sometimes a firm handshake is necessary to close a deal or unique technical expertise requires your presence.  How can you stay involved in your personal life without sacrificing your job? 

Video Conferencing. 

You use it frequently to conduct business with colleagues, clients and partners so why not use it to stay involved in your children’s lives? Instead of calling home every night, video home.  Read a bed time story, watch the baseball game in real time, or even express your disappointment on a bad choice, the possibilities are endless! With video, you no longer have to forfeit your personal life in the name of business or see the disappointed looks when you leave for yet another business trip. 

Face time is just as important in strengthening personal relationships as it is in developing business relationships. As the saying goes, eyes are the gateway to the soul.  It’s nearly impossible to establish an emotional connection or tell what someone is thinking without looking someone in the eyes. Phone calls and text messages while traveling just don’t cut it anymore; buy a webcam or an iPad and check in with family while on the road. 

Then, the next time you are traveling, you can sit around the dinner table, hear about your spouse’s day and even kiss your children goodnight…virtually.