American Telemedicine Association’s policy guys, Jonathan Linkous, CEO, and Gary Capistrant, senior director of public policy, are back with another monthly installment of This Month in Telemedicine.

They’re predicting an additional 30 to 40 million Americans will be added to Medicaid roles by next year, and there are now 20 states looking to expand Medicaid coverage to accommodate this surge. Better start preparing now, says Linkous. “I think next year we’re going to see a whole different world, in a few short months it’s happening so the time to gear up is now,” he says.

Funding Opportunity
The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation has just launched another billion dollar funding opportunity. It’s looking for “big, bold projects,” particularly any that will be actionable on a multi-state level. Letters of intent are due by June 28, and the full applications are due August 15.

Austin Meeting Recap
Linkous and Capistrant also discussed the ATA’s recent meeting that was held at the beginning of May in Austin, Texas. During the meeting, the first of four best practices was released. They’re for state Medicaid programs, and the ATA has been working with special interest groups and refining the guidelines, and they should be available soon. They cover specialties such as telemental health, home telehealth and remote monitoring, school-based telehealth, and specialties like diabetic retinopathy.

The ATA also distributed a draft version of their state best practices guidelines, which is now being reviewed by special interest groups. Additionally, a new and expanded version of their toolkit is now available on the ATA website.

“We try and provide more information for you all to use,” says Capistrant. “But also to try and act as a clearing house and identify what the various states are doing so that all the other states can benefit from that without duplicating efforts or trying to draft something from scratch.”

Federal News
On the federal level, the ATA is very focused on dealing with getting Medicare coverage approved, and some opportunities for Medicaid as well. The bill sponsored by Senator Scott Thompson is working its way through the system, but because that bill is more of a big-picture attempt to solve and clarify telemedicine issues, the ATA felt the need for a bill that would deal with smaller-scale issues that could move quickly and be approved relatively easily. To that end, they’ve been working with Congressman Greg Harp, R-Mississippi, to assemble a package of incremental changes. “Hopefully, [it will be] easier to get support and budget estimates,” said Capistrant. They’re also hoping to be involved in physician payment reform.

As discussed during previous ATA webcasts, 104 counties lost Medicare coverage in February because of redesignation as metropolitan areas. The ATA is working on restoring coverage to the affected counties. The ATA is also working to remove some major barriers, like metropolitan area access, stroke diagnosis, and services for homebound patients that aren’t currently covered by Medicare. Homebound patients present a particularly strong argument, says Capistrant. “They’re not in the position to travel to a doctor’s office, so there’s a compelling clinical case for care in the home.”

Bipartisan Effort
There’s bipartisan interest in telemedicine, says Linkous, which is something the ATA has cultivated. “We’ve always made sure this is a bipartisan effort,” he says. “We’ve worked very hard to avoid any type of partisan positioning.” The ATA has had congress people of both stripes approach, and voice support for telemedicine.

In state action, Georgia and Alabama both have proposals from their respective medical boards under review. They’re improved versions of past proposals although still there are still issues: they don’t deal with the full range and diversity of telehealth uses and situations e.g. emergencies, and also interpretative services such as cardiology, radiology, etc. For example, in Georgia, telehealth ICU would require patients to I.D. every health practitioner who had previously served them, which is a burdensome task for all involved.

In the Alabama proposal, telehome care is exempt from rules if delivered by a licensed homecare health agency but community health centers and physician practices are excluded.

The pair also took issue with certain language in both proposals, identifying it as “anti-telehealth”; particularly requirements for prior physician-patient relationships, meaning the physician has to see patient in his or her office first. “That’s a code word for people who want to kill telemedicine,” says Linkous. ”It’s about protecting your market and protecting yourself from competition that telemedicine provides. And when you do that, there are 5.5 million Americans received teleradiology services and they’re gone, they don’t get it anymore because of the prior physician-patient relationship [requirement].”

Now that unified communications have become commonplace and popular, many meeting participants prefer to participate in meetings from their desk. In some instances, that might work well, but in-room collaboration offers benefits that completely remote meetings do not. In-room allows participants to experience non-verbal communication and other visual cues that make collaboration more effective. Participants can get up and move around and still participate in the conversation, plus larger displays make it easier to view remote participants and data sources.

Organizations also often need to share and collaborate on complex data. This includes high resolution images where granular detail is necessary, such as blueprints or products designs, as well as the ability to display and control data from multiple sources simultaneously. In these cases, desktop collaboration just doesn’t quite cut it. Much of the detail and interactivity common among complex data can get lost over the desktop, plus users typically have to choose between sharing video or sharing content.

The solution is a collaboration room designed to support telepresence capabilities and complex data equally. A few application and teams that can benefits from these types of rooms include:

Research Teams: Participants need to view multiple images and different types of research data while on a video call.
Crisis Management: War Rooms that need multiple, high resolution video feeds to stay on top of the situation as well as collaborate with remote colleagues and teams.
Product Management & Development: Ability to view large, high-resolution design images along with 360-design previews

Cyviz is a manufacturer of a range of Collaboration Telepresence (CTP) products that support complex data and aims to bring the three essentials of modern meetings into alignment: video conferencing, data, and visualization. What’s also unique and valuable about Cyviz’s products is they’re all part of a cohesive portfolio designed to work together, depending on the end user’s needs. The 7 components are:

  1. Displaywall: 5 models available
  2. User Interface: Cyviz Display Controller central room control
  3. CTP Engine: for data management; 3 models available
  4. Video Codec: for standard C1 set-up
  5. Integration Kit: all the accessories needed to put the system together
  6. Collaboration Platform: enabling multi-room connection capabilities
  7. Furniture Module: ergonomically designed unit for each product

The product range is broad enough for most CTP situations, and their products are very adaptable and user-friendly. If you’re in need of a high-quality data visual data and conference solution get in touch and we will walk you through the options to ensure you’ll collaborate efficiently and not miss a byte of crucial information.

The Milton Hershey School recently announced that it will extend its Hershey Learn to Grow Ghana Distance Learning program, which launched last fall. The program connects students in Hershey, Pennsylvania with students in Assin Fosu, a rural town in central Ghana and allows students to explore each other’s culture; such as important events or special occasions that are celebrated.

David Bruce, a sixth grade social studies teacher at Milton Hershey School, said “we believe this new approach will be more meaningful and provide a deeper understanding for the students of what it’s like to live in each country.”

Additionally, in a touching story, Ed Schermerhorn of Cisco recounts his experience of the first telepresence call between the two countries. After dealing with a power outage that was resolved by a standby generator, he describes how watching the students in Ghana and Hershey interact made it worth it. “All it took was a vision and a team of dedicated people to open doors that these students had never imagined were possible,” Schermerhorn stated.

It’s truly amazing how video conferencing technology can break through previous geographical barriers and connect people around the world. Distance learning programs that facilitate the interactions between students from different countries allow students to gain a better understanding of different cultures and provide them with experiences they otherwise wouldn’t have access to.

Students are able to discuss topics and listen to points of view from a different perspective which helps promote tolerance and acceptance of different cultures. Some of the best ideas come from bringing together people from different backgrounds. That’s an important lesson for students to learn and businesses to remember.

*Photo courtesy of Dan Gleiter. View the entire photo gallery here.

Significant advancements in video conferencing technology have allowed for greater accessibility and interoperability. As a result, video is becoming more integrated into consumers’ professional and personal lives. This opens significant opportunity in business-to-consumer video which can have a dramatic impact on the way we view and receive healthcare.

Picture yourself sitting in a waiting room with several other patients who all seem to be spreading their contagious ailments through coughing and sneezing. It’s not very appealing, so perhaps you decide to “wait out” your symptoms or Google them for a self-diagnosis. Unfortunately, the internet can easily turn a simple upset stomach into appendicitis and send you rushing to the emergency room in a panic.

Now picture yourself sitting on the couch or even at your desk between meetings and connecting to a doctor, nurse or other medical professional via video. You can list your symptoms, ask questions and receive medical advice without driving to the doctor’s office. The medical professional can then let you know if you most likely have an upset stomach (take some Pepto and if you don’t feel better in a couple of days make an appointment) or appendicitis (go to the emergency room right away).

Advancements in video technology are making this possible; which is not only great for patients but for medical facilities as well. Waiting rooms will be less crowded because patients will only go to the office when a physical visit is required. Post-operational follow ups or other routine visits can also be conducted over video at a central location while rural hospitals can have access to medical specialists creating numerous efficiencies and revolutionizing the healthcare industry!

Check out this quick video from American Telemedicine Association (ATA) that demonstrates the future of telehealth.

 

Fashion is considered an art form to many people and New York City’s semi-annual Fashion Week is the event of the season. More than 500 fashion shows attract over 230,000 attendees as people gather from around the world to view the latest creations from New York’s top designers. In fact, according to a statement from NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Fashion Week generates an economic impact of $865 million annually.

The pressure to produce and present high-quality, unique garments is felt by everyone from the designers to seamstresses, fabric providers, models and modeling agencies, and more. Fashion changes faster than almost any other industry; therefore, the ability to produce the right designs with the right quality at the right time is critical for success.

It’s no wonder that design houses, like Tommy Hilfiger, are turning to video conferencing solutions to support their operations. Communicating with seamstresses and sending fabrics and designs back and forth can become cumbersome; not to mention expensive, when using an international courier. Telepresence solutions eliminate many of these challenges by allowing designers to stay in contact with suppliers all over the world.

With high definition systems, designers can see the quality of fabrics and clothing samples down to the actual stitch. They can browse fabric rolls and choose prints as if they were walking through the warehouse resulting in a quicker selection process. Since the feel of fabric is of utmost importance, samples of selected fabrics can then be sent to the designer for final selection and approval.

After fabrics have been selected, samples of the clothing designs must be created by seamstresses. Telepresence allows designers to give directions while seamstresses pin alterations in real-time to ensure the garments align perfectly with their vision. The misinterpretation of comments and alterations from communication or cultural barriers can be avoided. Plus, it significantly reduces the cost and time of sending samples back and forth reducing the time required to finalize designs and get them into production.

While clothing collections are the spotlight of Fashion Week, there is just as much to do when planning a show. Selecting the right models is critical to ensure the collection is displayed properly. In addition to proper fit, skin tone must accent garment colors for optimal impact. Design houses can use video to pre-screen models in the same way corporations use it to screen job applicants. As a result, designers can easily approve model selection while finishing the last minute details of their collection.

In the fast-paced and ever changing fashion world; designers must find new ways to stay in touch with consumer needs and create collections in an efficient and effective manner.