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

Telemedicine centers bring quality, affordable medical treatment to India’s hundreds of millions of poor people.

Patients schedule a doctor’s “visit” at the center, and consult with a doctor by video about symptoms and care. The nurse will measure vital signs like blood pressure and heartbeat, through equipment that transmits readings directly to the doctor and into a patient’s computerized medical file.

Total cost to the patient: 50 rupees, or about 96 U.S. cents.

http://india.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/01/10/from-india-the-1-doctors-visit/?scp=1&sq=video%20conferencing&st=cse

Date: Thursday, November 3, 2011

Time: 2:00 PM EST

Place: Webinar login details will be sent after registration

You’ve probably been hearing about telemedicine for some time.

Here’s an opportunity to learn about the latest in telemedicine technology and how it applies to a variety of medical settings. 

Join GlobalMed and IVCi for a free, informative, hour-long Webinar, “Extending the Reach of Healthcare with Telemedicine.”  This Webinar is aimed specifically at practices, facilities and institutions who are considering a telemedicine program.

GlobalMed and IVCi will address some of the key challenges of healthcare delivery.

• Hear about products and services that enable greater access to specialists, increased revenue and reduced turnover.

• Find out how these new products and technologies integrate with your existing EMR/PACS investment.

• Learn how telemedicine can improve your organization’s continuum of care.

IVCi and GlobalMed have successfully implemented solutions for customers in the public and private sectors.

GlobalMed is the industry-leading telemedicine design, manufacturing and marketing company with solutions at work in the University of California system, Stanford University, Loyola University, Emory University, the VA Healthcare System, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, and the Mayo Clinic TeleStroke Network.

IVCi is a nationally recognized provider of unified communications and visual collaboration solutions.

CLICK HERE TO REGISTER NOW!

 

 

Davis Memorial Hospital soon will offer more advanced care to stroke patients.

Neurologists from West Virginia University’s Stroke Center will communicate with the hospital using video conferencing devices.

The team will be able to view, and interact with patients while viewing diagnostic data. Hospital officials said they’re excited about the partnership.

The hospital will conduct mock drills, and that it expects the devices to go online next month.

Watch video here:

http://www.wboy.com/story.cfm?func=viewstory&storyid=109008&catid=36