Telemedicine’s boffo year? Some confirmation. (US)

Big bets were made on telemedicine (video doctor-patient consults) in 2014. This Editor closed her 18 December article with ‘telemedicine providers received a $200 million+ vote of confidence from tough-minded investors. We’ll see if 2015 results fulfill these whale-at-Monte-Carlo wagers.’ Here may be the start of a tipping point. New York State’s new law requiring insurer reimbursement for telehealth services went into effect 1 January, making NY the 22nd state to require payers to pay up for virtual visits. Permitted providers are physicians, dentists (!), physician assistants, psychologists and social workers. This provider list is considerably broader than Medicare’s new rules applying telehealth for patients with two or more chronic conditions, which is tied to physicians’ offices and contracted third parties. Also cheering the industry are that Indiana, Iowa and Tennessee are holding hearings on potential legislation, with Missouri at the legislative bill stage. (more…)

Australia’s telehealth incentive programme nears end

A multi-million dollar financial incentive programme to encourage Australian clinicians to start telehealth [grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/GovAustelehealth.jpg” thumb_width=”150″ /]schemes is due to end in June. Launched as a four-year programme in July 2011, the Telehealth On-Board Incentive Programme was funded from a wider AU$620 million telehealth initiative, but the end of the programme was brought forward to June 2014.

The Medicare rebates and financial incentives for specialist video consultations were introduced to address some of the barriers to accessing medical services, particularly specialist services, for Australians in remote, regional and outer metropolitan areas. The Telehealth On-Board incentive was one of five financial incentives in the wider initiative and encouraged and supported the initial and ongoing provision of telehealth services to eligible patients by practitioners. (more…)

Telepsychiatry pilot success in the Bronx

More on telepsychiatry: a pilot at Lincoln Hospital in The Bronx (borough of NYC) for adolescent telepsychiatry consultations reported success with only one in 10 patients being hospitalized after the telehealth consultation, according to Louis Capponi, M.D., chief medical informatics officer for New York Health & Hospitals Corporation, the parent of Lincoln Hospital. “The impact was very profound in terms of the number of patients that were able to (be) discharged safely.” HHC is considering expanding the pilot to patients who come in through the prison system. What is puzzling is that in the exclusive interview with Dr. Capponi in FierceHealthIT, there is no information on the duration of the pilot, the number of patients in the program, or details that would give our readers some framework beyond ‘engaging patients through technology’.

Doctor disciplined for using Skype for telemedicine consults

A family practice physician in eastern Oklahoma was disciplined by the state medical board for using Skype on initial mental health consults. Skype is not approved by the board for telemedicine; other factors were that the patients were not physically seen at any point and that they were prescribed controlled substances (including narcotics). Three of the patients died while under care but the deaths were not attributable to Dr. Trow. It is easy to score the doctor for what could be seen as bad practice in telemedicine, but a mitigating factor is his practice in a remote area of the state and the distance of the patients. Joseph Kvedar, MD of the Center for Connected Health/Partners HealthCare reviews the situation (more…)

Virtual consulter Teladoc acquires Consult A Doctor

Dallas, Texas-based telemedicine provider Teladoc yesterday announced their acquisition of Miami Beach, Florida-based Consult A Doctor.  Price was not disclosed nor the future of management and staff at Consult A Doctor. The release portrays the acquisition of small Consult A Doctor (below $1 million in sales, D&B) as reinforcing Teladoc’s 6 million member customer base and an estimated 125,000 annual consults with individuals and employees of small- to medium-size businesses. Teladoc is VC backed: Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers (2011) with $18.6 million; $9 million (2009) by HLM Venture Partners, Cardinal Health and Trident Capital. It offers internal medicine, (more…)