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4 Things to Know About Telehealth

4 Things to Know About Telehealth | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

Telehealth has emerged as a critical tool in providing health care services. [1] The practice covers a broad range of medical technology and services that collectively define the discipline. Telehealth is especially beneficial for patients who live in rural communities and other remote areas where medical professionals use the Internet to gather and share information as well as monitor the health conditions of patients by using peripheral equipment and software such as video conferencing devices, store-and-forward imaging, and streaming media. The following information details important factors that are shaping this burgeoning field.

 

The Changing Face of Telehealth Law
Today’s competitive health care marketplace has created an environment where patients demand lower costs, higher service quality, and convenient access to services. [2] Telehealth is an innovative and valuable mechanism that provides patients with efficient access to quality services. Lowering costs and removing barriers to service access, are critical components in promoting patient wellness and population health. Convenience and cost-effectiveness are important commodities in the modern health care marketplace, as patients tend to avoid treatment that is difficult to access or too expensive. As a result, telehealth technology is emerging as a preferred choice among patients and providers. Telehealth has also attracted the attention of US legislators. They utilize this tool for improving the competitiveness of American health care services. This is especially important, seeing as health care represents 17 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product (GDP). In fact, the resource has helped to define the role that lawmakers play in ensuring that patients benefit in a competitive health care market.

 

Reimbursement for Services Delivered by Telehealth
The laws regarding reimbursements change regularly as more service providers incorporate telehealth technology into their practices. Reimbursement procedures can vary by state, practice, insurer, and service. [3] Care providers need to understand several facts, regulations, and laws to navigate Medicare telehealth reimbursements. They must first scrutinize whether the distance between the facility (the originating site) and the patient is far enough to qualify as a distant site. The location must also qualify as a Health Professional Shortage Area (HPSA) per Medicare guidelines. Additionally, the originating site must fall under Medicare’s classification as a legally authorized private practice, hospital, or critical access hospital (CAH). For instance, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services ranks the Harvard Street Neighborhood Health Center as a top facility in need of physician services based on these criteria. Care providers must also use proper insurance coding to be reimbursed for hosting services that use telehealth technologies. For now, collecting reimbursements for telehealth services remains simpler for practitioners who limit the scope to which they apply the technology.

 

Telehealth or Telemedicine?
The term ‘telehealth’ is gaining popularity among medical professionals, compared to the original term, ‘telemedicine.’ [4] Some medical professionals use the names interchangeably. However, telemedicine is a term that may apply to the application of any technology in the clinical setting, while telehealth more distinctly describes the delivery of services to patients. Telemedicine is a familiar term, but telehealth more appropriately describes the latest trends in using technology to deliver treatments to patients. Depending on the organization, service providers may use a different definitions of telehealth. Although the basic premise remains similar, the context may change according to factors such as organizational objectives, and the needs of the patient population being served. Medical experts do agree on one point; telehealth is an innovative way of engaging patients, and it is highly beneficial for both providers and patients.

 

The Road Ahead
There are several areas where telehealth medicine could make a significant impact. It could be used as a tool to remotely monitor patients who have recently been discharged. It may also help treat individuals with behavioral health issues who might normally avoid treatment due to its high cost, or to avoid any perceived public stigma. [5] The largest area where technology could advance medicine is in treating the chronically ill. These patients usually require many visits with several specialists who may practice at different and distant originating sites. To move telehealth forward, organizational leaders must present evidence to peers and patients that the technology offers value. In addition, care providers must work to transition patients from using telehealth services only for minor conditions (for headaches, colds, etc.), to accepting the technology as a viable replacement for costly physician office visits. Advocates for telehealth medicine must also develop quality controls, so that this potentially transformational tool can maximize its problem solving capabilities and its service effectiveness. To harness the benefits of telehealth technology, America’s brightest medical professionals (both experienced and up-and-coming) must make a concerted effort to incorporate the tool into their practices and make it a regular service offering. Today’s medical students — as they enter a world where telehealth is becoming more pervasive — can take part in what might be a monumental change in the way health professionals think about medical treatment.

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Phone Systems that keep the Practice and Patient Connected 

Phone Systems that keep the Practice and Patient Connected  | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

Today’s medical practice office is increasingly concerned with patient satisfaction. Of course, the health and well-being of patients has always been a concern; but as revenue and billing cycles quickly shift to a larger percent of patient responsibility, it’s becoming important to focus on ways to keep the conversation between practice and patient open and customer-centric at all times.

 

Healthcare providers have begun looking to technology solutions to up their patient satisfaction game. One likely solution? Automated phone systems that keep the practice and patient connected. Here’s a look at some of the key pros and cons of using automated phone systems in healthcare.

 

Everyone can relate to being annoyed by automated phone systems that keep directing callers around in circles, never to reach a human voice. That experience doesn’t translate to high patient appreciation. But it’s important to note that a good automated phone system can be far easier to use and more personalized for your practice needs.

 

Pros of Automated Phone Systems

 

Save Money. Automated phone systems have the potential to cover all of the work of your standard receptionist. Calls can be directed to the right party fairly quickly and the practice is still saving on the man hours it takes to answer and direct those calls manually.


Easy Installation and Upkeep. Most phone systems can be installed and up and running in a short amount of time and they can be hosted by the provider, meaning that the office will not need to worry about troubleshooting problems.


Routing Calls. New systems are exceptionally advanced and calls can easily be routed to the right destination, as well as voicemail boxes.


Setting Up Call Options. If the office manager takes a good look at what patients generally call about, they can narrow down specific options so that callers are quickly directed to the right location. For instance, if the largest number of calls come in to schedule appointments, “Scheduling” should be the first item on the automated list.


Cons of Automated Phone Systems

 

Patient Approval. No matter how well designed the phone system is, there will always be patients who are opposed simply because they’ve had bad experiences with automated systems–potentially not even in healthcare, but in another industry altogether. Most patients will get used to a new system, though practices should definitely listen to feedback and adjust to better serve the patients.

 

Voice Recognition Mistakes. Voice recognition is exceptionally useful so that patients can speak their choices and be directed immediately, without punching in any keys. Many people prefer this method, but voice recognition does still have occasional issues in deciphering speech, especially with differing accents.

 

Managers should take some time researching the company and product before deciding on any system. Taking the patients’ needs into consideration can go a long way in making the decision, as well as breeding satisfaction with patients as they become better acquainted with the phone system. Looking to the future of healthcar, technology plays the biggest role in facilitating patient satsifaction.

Technical Dr. Inc.'s insight:
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inquiry@technicaldr.com or 877-910-0004
www.technicaldr.com

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Why you can't believe all the health articles that you read

Why you can't believe all the health articles that you read | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

I have recently become a card-carrying member of the Association of Health Care Journalists.  Lofty title for a lowly blogger, but I’ll take it.  There are two main advantages to this membership, at least that I can see so far.  The first is access to the full text of online journals, key to actually discussing research intelligently.  The second is the discussion groups, where journalists of all stripes can ask questions about reporting on health issues or point out recent discoveries.  I recently found out just how important both of these perks are, and how they relate.

The British Medical Journal (BMJ) recently released an article entitled, “The association between exaggeration in health related science news and academic press releases.” It is pretty well known that mainstream media, and not-so-mainstream media, tend to seize on major research with potentially far-ranging implications and emphasize or exaggerate significant findings.  Not only that, but news articles often use a single study to advise people on health-related decisions.  What the researchers of this BMJ paper wanted to know is where does the misinformation found in the media coverage of some health-related research come from?  Is it from the academics, the press releases, the journalists, or some combination?

The researchers looked at 462 press releases on biomedical and health-related research issued from universities, and compared them to the corresponding news stories and peer-reviewed journal articles.  The idea here is that the peer-reviewed journal articles contain the most accurate and conservative reporting of findings, because the research is being reviewed by people who are experts in whatever field is being reported.  So if the news stories and press releases don’t match the articles, some sort of embellishment may be going on.

The researchers found that 33 to 40 percent of the academic press releases exaggerated causation, advice, or inference in some way, and that the news articles took those claims and published them as is, or, in some cases, exaggerated them even more.  Now, to be fair, 10 to 18 percent of news articles did some sort of embellishment even with accurate press releases, news needing to be newsworthy and all.

Also, the research was all done with United Kingdom where the media are notoriously aggressive. But studies like this suggest that academic institutions, far from being the arbiters of caution when it comes to research, might actually contribute to the misinformation that plagues medical journalism.  The reasons for this are not addressed by the BMJ paper, but as a non-peer-reviewed blogger I can speculate all I want.  Competition for grant money and top research talent is fierce, and big research universities consider finances and status as much as industry does. A big discovery does wonders for alumni giving.

How to combat this?  Free and open access to original research, for one.  Removal of financial incentives from researchers and universities, for another.  And, ideally, the building of a society educated in basic statistics and simple journal article evaluation.  Do not get caught by big claims.  They are seldom true.


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Serve More Patients and Increase Your Revenue

Serve More Patients and Increase Your Revenue | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

Healthcare costs are rising. So are insurance deductibles and prescription fees. As more and more patients struggle to pay for their medical needs, healthcare providers suffer as well. Healthcare financing is evolving, and practice owners must change with it if they want to stay afloat. Our team at StrongBox offers healthcare/medical/dental patient financing that integrates seamlessly with our revenue cycle management software. Read on to find out how we can help you reduce bad debt expense and increase your return on investment (ROI).

 

Patients’ Confidence in Healthcare Affordability is Declining

In a study conducted this year, only 62.4% of adults in the United States said they were somewhat or very confident in their ability to pay for healthcare costs. [1]  This is a significant decline from 2015, when almost 70 percent of individuals said they were confident they could pay for medical care.

 

In this same study, about 55% of adults with employer-provided insurance plans said they felt certain they would be able to afford medical care when if necessary. But what about those with individual coverage? One-third of all American adults stated that healthcare has become significantly more difficult
to afford over the past year. Additionally, only half of the population said they would have the money necessary to cover the costs of an unexpected medical bill.

 

What Needs to Change?
The statistics mentioned above are staggering. Clearly, we need a better way to help patients afford the
care they need. However, if healthcare providers keep performing treatment on patients who cannot
pay, their business suffers. What is the solution? At StrongBox, we offer healthcare/medical/dental
patient financing that benefits both the doctor and the patient.

 

Lending Partners and Patient Financing
What if you could give your patients the option to search fixed-rate healthcare loans from top-tier lenders? This is precisely what StrongBox offers. When your patient fills out an application, rates are provided without markup. Better yet, compared to medical credit cards, over twice as many applicants are approved. This option is not only ideal for elective procedures, such as cosmetic surgery and fertility treatments, it’s also extremely beneficial for individuals who do not have the money to pay for health-related procedures upfront.

 

StrongBox Healthcare/Medical/Dental Patient Financing
When it comes to patient financing, StrongBox offers two primary solutions: Select and Pro. Select is ideal for small to mid-sized providers. This cloud-based software works in conjunction with StrongBox revenue cycle management. Patients can complete their application in less than five minutes, after which it is submitted to a pool of up to 15 lenders. With terms up to 60 months and reasonable interest rates, this option is non-recourse to healthcare providers.

 

Pro is designed for large group practices and hospitals. This proprietary software identifies each patient’s credit profile and predicts their ability to pay. After approval, the healthcare facility receives funds directly within 24 hours. This increases average collections from 15% to 70%. As a result, practice owners can enjoy improved revenue and reduced bad debt expense.

 

Learn More about Healthcare/Medical/Dental Patient Financing with StrongBox

Are rising healthcare costs having a negative impact on the financial state of your practice? We can help.
If you would like to learn more about StrongBox solutions, request a virtual demo. We can assess your
unique practice needs and design customized software to address those concerns. Contact our Boca
Raton, FL office by calling (855) 468-7876.

Technical Dr. Inc.'s insight:
Contact Details :

inquiry@technicaldr.com or 877-910-0004
www.technicaldr.com

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US adults step away from the tanning bed

US adults step away from the tanning bed | Healthcare and Technology news | Scoop.it

Slowly but surely, individuals are turning their backs on indoor tanning -- without catching any rays -- according to a new study.

To be clear, the practice is still in full swing with an estimated 7.8 million women and 1.9 million men still flocking to tanning beds despite a decades-old link to increased cancer risk, according to the study.

Yet the rates dipped from 5.5 percent in 2010 to 4.2 percent in 2013, the study concluded.


In the study, which was published online in a research letter by JAMA Dermatology, a team from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, worked with data from 59,145 individuals.

The team was able to identify decreases in tanning bed use among those aged between 18 and 29, whose rates dipped from 11.3 percent in 2010 to 8.6 percent in 2013.


In this group, women made up 8.6 percent of indoor tanners in 2010 and 6.5 percent in 2013 while men represented 2.2 percent in 2010 and 1.7 percent in 2013.


Women who use tanning beds saw a 28 percent drop in the oldest age bracket, and college graduates' use of tanning beds dropped 45 percent.


Whereas women in fair or poor health saw a dip of 33 percent, very fit women abandoned tanning bed use by 23 percent.


Their male counterparts, however, flocked to indoor tanning salons, upping their frequency by 177 percent in the 40 to 49 age bracket.

Tanning bed use was 71 percent higher in men age 50 or older, however, cancer survivors discontinued use by 45 percent.


The research team attributes the dip to increased awareness and the classification of indoor tanning beds as carcinogenic as well as a 10 percent excise tax that exists nationwide.


"Physicians can also play a role through behavioral counseling, which is recommended for fair-skinned persons aged 10 to 24 years," write the researchers. "Continued surveillance of indoor tanning will aid program planning and evaluation by measuring the effect of skin cancer prevention policies and monitoring progress."

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