Tag Archive for: telehealth

Healthcare providers have been offering remote services for years, which have allowed patients to receive healthcare from the comfort of their own homes.

However, following the COVID-19 pandemic, telemedicine services became a necessity and are now a common tool utilized by many patients and healthcare professionals.

Why? These phone and video calls help patients protect themselves and others as well as provide a host of other benefits (but more on this later!) 

In this article, we’ll discuss what telemedicine is, the types of telemedicine, and when patients should be using these services. Let’s dive in.

What is Telemedicine?

Telemedicine allows healthcare providers to connect with patients without an in-person visit. Telemedicine services are provided primarily online or via smartphone through video chats or phone calls.

What is the Difference Between Telehealth and Telemedicine?

The terms “telemedicine” and “telehealth” are often used interchangeably, though the two have a few key differences: telemedicine refers specifically to remote clinical services and telehealth can refer to remote non-clinical services. 

Telemedicine, as stated by the World Health Organization, is “healing from a distance.” You receive treatment without an appointment or visiting the office.

Telehealth uses electronic information to support long-distance clinical healthcare, education, and administrative activities. It improves patient care and physician education rather than providing a service. Telehealth involves scheduling appointments, medical education continuation, and training for physicians.

In short, all telemedicine is telehealth, but not all telehealth is telemedicine. 

Types of Telemedicine

Using telemedicine, you can discuss symptoms and medical issues, receive a diagnosis, learn treatment options, and get prescriptions. There are a few common types of telemedicine which include:

Real-Time or Interactive Medicine

Interactive telemedicine, also commonly referred to as real-time or live telemedicine,  involves a physician and patient communicating in real-time.  

Real-time telemedicine involves any two-way communications –such as video conferencing and phone calls – that let providers and patients talk and allows healthcare providers to offer medical care. 

Some common services provided via interactive telemedicine include assessments of medical history, basic visual examinations, psychiatric evaluations, and even ophthalmic tests.

Remote Patient Monitoring

Remote patient monitoring gives caregivers the ability to monitor patients who have medical equipment that collects information like blood pressure, blood sugar levels, and more.

Through technology, information is sent to healthcare professionals and allows them to provide care and keep an eye on patients without the patients needing to visit in person. 

Remote patient monitoring can result in benefits such as reducing the time a patient needs to be in the hospital, reducing a patient’s exposure to other illnesses present in a healthcare building, as well as giving the patient time to recover at home. 

Remote patient monitoring is especially effective for chronic conditions such as heart disease, asthma, and diabetes.

Store and Forward Practices

In telemedicine, store and forward practices allow providers to share their patient’s information with other healthcare specialists and professionals.

The most significant advantage of these practices is that it doesn’t require the simultaneous attention of the delivering and receiving parties.

Many healthcare professionals—such as field technicians, caregivers, or specialists, for example—can collect the necessary data and upload it for use by other healthcare professionals.  

When Should You Use Telemedicine?

Telemedicine is for straightforward questions and issues, and any follow-up consults. It also can be helpful with psychotherapy and teledermatology. Some examples of straightforward issues include cold and flu symptoms, insect bites, diarrhea, pink eye, and sore throats.

Telemedicine has advanced our current health care options by offering several new benefits. It is making healthcare accessible for more patients, whether they live in a remote location, have a packed schedule, or any number of other reasons.

When Should You NOT Use Telemedicine?

Telemedicine is not for emergencies. For anything that requires urgent, primary care, you should go to a doctor in person. 

Benefits of Telemedicine

Telemedicine Saves Time

These services also help people avoid unnecessary hospital visits, which helps healthcare professionals give advice at a distance, save time, and reduce costs for both patients and doctors. Not only will it help avoid hospital visits when they aren’t necessary, but it will also give patients in the hospital the ability to discharge sooner by monitoring their vitals with telemedicine.

Telemedicine is Affordable

A recent study found that the average telemedicine visit is around $79, whereas an average doctor’s appointment is $149, and a trip to the emergency room costs, on average, $1,734. As telemedicine continues to grow, health insurance providers are offering coverage for telemedicine visits. Some states even require that health insurance plans reimburse patients for telemedicine visits.

Telemedicine is Accessible

Telemedicine offers a more accessible opportunity for healthcare and changes the way we visit the doctor. At Innovative HIA, we offer the most competitive limited benefit plans in the industry, including virtual health options! Check out our services for more information!

Read on for the pros and cons of telemedicine.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, telehealth services, such as Zoom diagnoses, became a necessity. These phone and video calls help patients protect themselves and others by quarantining and remaining safely in their homes.

However, after years of visiting healthcare professionals in person, many patients can’t help but ask the question: Can a doctor really diagnose over Zoom?

The short answer: Yes, doctors can absolutely provide accurate diagnoses and medical assistance over a video call. Telemedicine services help patients receive the care they deserve at the right time and place.

Read on to learn more about how to utilize telehealth services. Let’s start with a definition.

First, What Are Telehealth Services?

Telehealth, also commonly referred to as common medicine, allows healthcare providers to connect with patients without an in-person visit. Telehealth services are provided primarily online or via smartphone through video chats or phone calls.

Why is the American Medical Association Maximizing Telemedicine Service Options?

The American Medical Association is working to maximize telemedicine service options to revolutionize healthcare. While the highly contagious nature of the COVID-19 virus drove this change, telehealth can help patients facing other medical issues or illnesses as well as those who may struggle to get to the doctor in person.

How Can Telehealth Help Patients Who Struggle Going to the Doctor?

Patients may struggle to attend in-person visits to the doctor for many reasons. For example, many patients may have difficulty getting time off work or may be responsible for watching children at home and find it challenging to find a sitter.

Additionally, telemedicine services can also help those who have had non-urgent medical care postponed due to the pandemic or patients whose medical resources are greatly limited in their area.

Patients should not have to receive less than the medical care they deserve because of these difficulties. Telehealth services allow patients to easily hop on a video visit and get the same results as going to the doctor.

So, How Exactly Does Telemedicine Work?

Drs. Francavilla Brown and Boyd told AMA that telemedicine “is easier than people think it is to incorporate into a practice.”

With technological advancements typically come progress and challenges. Physicians who have tried implementing telemedicine have identified these challenges, and have come up with a few solutions.

One challenge is patients may not have a good signal to support their doctor’s visit. The trouble with a weak signal may make the appointment longer, or impossible for someone who really needs it. Another challenge physicians have identified is booking appointments to be a televisit for doctor’s offices. The patient must call the office to ensure their appointment is virtual.

What Medical Issues Can Telehealth Services Best Help Patients With?

While telehealth services may not be the best option for detecting major issues, it has been great for reassessing and monitoring patients who have known problems. It can also be used to adjust medications, answer questions, and share information.

These services also help people avoid unnecessary hospital visits, which helps to give advice at a distance, save time, and reduce costs for both patients and doctors. Not only will it help avoid hospital visits when they aren’t necessary, but it will also give patients in the hospital the ability to discharge sooner by monitoring their vitals with telemedicine.

Looking for Telehealth Services?

Virtual visits with your doctor may begin to become the new normal in a post-COVID world. At Innovative HIA, we offer telemedicine services at competitive prices. Learn more about our services.

Infographic of "Can a Doctor Really Diagnose Over Zoom?"

Read on for the pros and cons of telemedicine.

Telehealth, a once overlooked method of healthcare services, has significantly grown as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Virtual visits are now part of everyday medical services. Its booming growth in the medical industry helps grant easier access to patient care for those in remote areas, or those seeking services that don’t necessitate in-person visits. But that’s not all. Let’s discuss the top five reasons you should use telehealth services. 

1. Save Time on your Appointments 

Telehealth visits cut down the time you spend before, during, and after your appointments. Participating in a virtual visit allows you to speak with your healthcare provider at a time and place that is convenient for you- likely in the comfort of your own home. It eliminates the time you spend getting ready, driving to the doctor’s office, waiting in the waiting room, waiting for any delays, and more. 

Research found that telemedicine visits average about 13-15 minutes while in-person visits average about 2 hours. 

Time is valuable, and you want to spend less time in the waiting room, and more time healing. 

2. Consult With a Healthcare Professional if You Need to Go in Person 

Not all appointments require you to physically be in the healthcare provider’s office. Virtual visits are best used in cases of:

  • New patient onboarding 
  • Sharing test results 
  • Chronic disease management 
  • Medication management 
  • Consultation visits 
  • Lifestyle / health coaching

Skip the waiting room and use telemedicine to your advantage when seeking out services that do not require an in-person visit. 

Not all injuries or illnesses can be satisfied with a virtual telehealth visit. A benefit to taking advantage of telehealth services is by first making a telehealth appointment to speak with your health care team to see if you should in fact go physically into the office. In these instances, telemedicine visits help you and your physician determine if you should seek treatment in-person or if the condition can be treated or discussed virtually. 

Seeking the counsel of a professional through a telemedicine visit can save you time by first determining if you need to actually go into the office or not. If you don’t it saves you a visit, and at least 2 hours in the doctor’s office. 

 

3. Cost-Effective

Telehealth is more cost-effective than an in-person office visit. Why? The main reason is that the cost of a telehealth visit is typically less than the cost of an in-person visit. 

Standard telehealth visits cost, on average, about $50. A standard in-office visit, however, can cost upwards of $176. While these estimates may vary based on insurance co-pays etc. the fact remains the same, that the overall cost of telehealth services is dramatically more affordable. 

It also saves on the expenses of transportation to the office itself. 

4. Receive Equivalent Quality of Care 

The quality of care you receive with a telehealth visit is equivalent to the quality of care in an in-office visit. You still have access to a dedicated team of healthcare professionals equipped with the same resources you need in the provider’s office. Your healthcare provider is still actively seeking ways to improve your health no matter if they see you physically or through a screen. 

Reports conducted by American Well and Massachusetts General Hospital found the following regarding patient’s experiences with telehealth:

  • “Patients reported that telemedicine visits resolved their concerns 85% of the time, versus just 64% of the time for brick-and-mortar appointments
  • Patients believe telehealth services can meet their needs as effectively as in-person visits.
  • Telemedicine users are very satisfied with the service. 
  • 79% of respondents perceived telemedicine as more convenient in terms of scheduling
  • 83% felt that the care was as good or better than an in-person visit, and 66% felt personally connected to their telehealth practitioner”

Furthermore, the American Journal of Accountable Care found that telemedicine has created a space for better long-term care management and patient satisfaction. It provides a new way to find health information and allows practitioners a more streamlined method of communicating with patients (such as video conferences, e-mail, and interactive chats). 

5. Decreased Risk of Exposure to Viruses and Bacteria 

An in-person office visit exposes you to other people who could be fending off viruses or bacterial infections. Virtual visits decrease your exposure to others who have an illness that could be passed to you. Additionally, if you have an easily transmissible illness, a virtual visit keeps those around you, and your healthcare team safe. 

For more information about telemedicine, review the difference between mHealth, eHealth, Telemedicine, and Telehealth here

Telehealth is a tool to use to your advantage

Article originally published on SBMA Benefits.

 

 

New Year’s resolutions are known to fall by the wayside just as quickly as they begin. Old habits die hard. The exercise routines, juice cleanse, and promises of a healthier fresh start can easily be put on the backburner. In a recent study, researchers found that in 2022:

 

  • 26% of people planned to lose weight
  • 24% of people wanted to exercise more
  • 21% of people want to eat healthier 

 

No matter where you are on your health journey – you can still use your health insurance to meet your health goals. But how? It’s simpler than you’d think. Let’s dive in. 

MEC Coverage 

Minimum Essential Coverage (MEC) plans meet the minimum requirements for an insurance plan to be considered compliant with the Affordable Care Act (ACA). All applicable large employers (ALEs) with 50 or more full-time employees must offer 95% of their full-time employees ACA-compliant benefits. If they don’t provide this coverage, ALEs are liable for fines and penalties by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Read more here on why offering MEC benefits is more affordable than not.  

 

The three tiers of MEC options available are: 

 

  1. Standard MEC plans are ACA compliant and include coverage for wellness, preventative services, prescription discounts, and telehealth services. 
  2. Enhanced MEC plans take coverage one step further than standard plans and are aimed at attracting and retaining top talent by also including primary and urgent care visits with low copays, and discounted specialist and laboratory services. 
  3. The highest-level MEC plans include the enhanced MEC plan benefits along with added coverage such as prescription coverage and low copays. 


How To Use Health Insurance to Meet Health Goals

Your health insurance can lead you toward the right steps to keep yourself healthy. Preventative care can help keep you and your healthcare team ahead of potential chronic illnesses. Catching diagnoses such as high blood pressure, or other similar conditions early can help avoid them becoming more serious down the road.

 

By using your health insurance resources, you are actively using the tools readily available to you to meet your health goals. Let’s unpack how a basic MEC plan can help you achieve your health goals. 

 

Annual Physical 

One of the best ways you can support your health goals is by visiting your primary care provider annually. This appointment helps you consistently monitor your physical health year over year. During a physical, your healthcare provider will examine you to check for any underlying conditions you may not be aware of before they become more serious or potentially deadly. 

 

In a poll taken by Kaiser Health, 92% of Americans do believe in the importance of an annual physical, but only about 62% of Americans actually take advantage of their annual physical. 

 

If your healthcare provider identifies an issue during your visit, they can then help you identify the best course of action for treatment or refer you to a specialist. 

 

Vaccinations 

Routine vaccines are another great way to help your body stay healthy and strong against viruses and bacteria that cause illness. 

 

Vaccines help develop the body’s immunity and create stronger defenses to fight against disease. According to the CDC, “Every year thousands of adults in the U.S. become seriously ill and are hospitalized because of diseases that vaccines can help prevent.” 

 

Receiving your routine preventative and wellness vaccinations can:

 

  1. Lower your chance of getting certain diseases, like how the Hepatitis B vaccine lowers your risk of liver cancer 
  2. Lowers your odds of spreading disease to others 

 

Click here to see the CDC’s recommended vaccine schedule. 

 

Telehealth 

Virtual visits are a great way to speak with a healthcare professional to continue making the healthiest decisions for yourself. Seeking expert advice can help you know how to best care for yourself, and know when it is a good idea to see a physician in person. 

 

Having a telehealth visit before an in-person exam can help the healthcare provider prepare for your visit, and understand what you may need in case you do need to go into the office. It also reduces the time you take to physically go to the appointment, wait in the waiting room, and return home. 

 

Your health journey isn’t yours alone. Use resources like telehealth visits to maximize physician resources. 

 

For more information on how to make the most out of your telehealth visit, read our article here. 

 

Prescription Discounts  

Medication can be expensive. Let your health insurance support the cost of necessary medications that keep your body healthy and functioning properly. Using your insurance prescription discount can help save hundreds, if not more, dollars on medications that some may not be able to live without.

 

Certain providers may be able to offer generic options for brand-name drugs to save you money while still getting you the medications you need.

 

Screenings/ Bloodwork 

Take advantage of the screenings and bloodwork panels included in your preventative care and wellness insurance plans. These screenings and bloodwork exams were created for a reason– to flag any potential illness before it becomes an issue. 

 

The Bottom Line

Catching a chronic illness or disease before it becomes more difficult to manage is one of the best outcomes of preventative care. 

 

Use to resources that your health insurance offers to keep yourself healthy. Taking advantage of these preventative care services are small manageable opportunities for you to implement your New Year’s health resolution throughout the year.  

 

Looking for more information on minor medical coverage? Read our article here

health insurance can be used to meet health goals

Article originally published on SBMA Benefits.

Article originally published on SBMA Benefits

The digital health world has seen massive growth over the last year. eHealth, mHealth, telehealth, and telemedicine are used to describe the use of mobile and desktop technology for patient management. These terms are used interchangeably at times, however, they each represent a different aspect of technology and healthcare. 

Learn about the difference between eHealth, mHealth telehealth, and telemedicine below, and why it’s important to know the difference. 

The Difference Between mHealth and eHealth

Both mHealth and eHealth play a role in supporting healthcare with electronics. They perform similar functions, however, the means by which the information is provided is the primary difference. 

What is mHealth?

mHealth is an abbreviation for mobile health, and utilizes mobile devices, such as a cellphone or a tablet, to support healthcare practices. With mHealth services, patients are able to log, store, and monitor their health records on their personal mobile devices. These applications are helpful in improving the efficiency of the delivery of healthcare information. mHealth applications can be helpful in research, and practitioner and patient use. 

Health tracking apps on mobile devices are becoming increasingly popular during everyday use. There are over 318,000 health apps on the market to choose from. Popular health app examples of mHealth include:

  • Fitbit
  • GoogleFit
  • Apple Heart Study

mHealth has the ability for healthcare professionals to track the recovery of patients. 

As hospitals and healthcare become more technologically reliant, more and more hospitals and health facilities are using the resources apps provide to access records, make appointments, and ask questions from mobile devices. 

What is eHealth?

On the other hand, eHealth consists of a much broader understanding of healthcare practices supported by electronic processes. The technology used to improve healthcare practices with eHealth include electronic health records, patient administration systems, lab systems, and other records that cannot be stored within mobile health applications. 

According to the Journal of Medical Internal Research, there are 10 “e’s” in eHealth 

  • Efficiency- avoid unnecessary duplication and streamline the health care service between patient and provider. 
  • Enhancing quality- providers have access to each other’s notes to avoid duplicating any previous exams or studies. 
  • Evidence based- there should still be scientific evidence on the basis of all information provided in eHealth. 
  • Empowerment- it should empower patients to be a part of the medical process. 
  • Encouragement- improving the relationship between healthcare provider and patient to work together in a partnership. 
  • Education- healthcare providers and patients have increased educational resources to learn and implement.
  • Enabling- allowing easy communication between healthcare providers and patients across the board. 
  • Extending- allowing healthcare services and assistance across the globe instead of relying on your set geographical location. 
  • Ethics- maintain the same values of professional practice, informed consent, privacy and equity. 
  • Equity- make healthcare more equitable for users. 

Furthermore, it should be easy-to-use, entertaining, and exciting.

Pros and Cons of mHealth and eHealth

Like everything else, there are pros and cons to using the digital capabilities of mHealth and eHealth.  

 

Pros of mHealth and eHealth

  • Education 
  • Convenience 
  • Encourages healthy behavior 

 

These three elements make mHealth and eHealth valuable tools for users. It’s a form of education for users to understand medical terminology easily, learn more about anatomy, prescription medication, and provide the ability to research using medical literature. 

 

We live in a world of convenience. Having technology on easily accessible smartphones keeps information at the tip of a finger, wherever users are. It can provide reminders about appointments or medications and much more by streamlining the communication processes. Health care providers have easier digital access to records and information instead of relying on paper documents. 

 

Finally, these digital services act as a platform to encourage healthy behavior through reminders or even encouragement from doctors.   

 

Cons of mHealth and eHealth

  • Privacy of information 
  • Less regulation 
  • Inaccurate spread of information 

 

Like all digital information, the material presented in apps is susceptible to data breaches and hackers. There is also the potential that an app could share personal and private user information. 

 

Additionally, these apps contain information that is less regulated than the information published in medical journals. Using them to test for the blood pressure may also lead to inaccurate results. 

 

Consider the pros and cons when using mHealth to support healthcare practices. 

The Difference Between Telehealth and Telemedicine 

These terms are confused with one another and used interchangeably. However, like eHealth and mHealth one term serves a broader purpose. The broader term in this comparison is telehealth. Telehealth refers to both clinical and remote non-clinical services, including providing training and continued medical education for practitioners. 

Telemedicine is solely referring to remote clinical services. The concept of telemedicine was started to treat patients who are located in remote areas. Throughout the last year with more and more services relying more on virtual resources, it has served a greater purpose – providing people access to care without putting themselves at risk of contracting COVID-19. As more people gain access to these services, expectations around waiting room times, access to care, and convenience of care are changing. 

Understanding the ways the terms work together to create the big picture of virtual healthcare is crucial to understanding your access to care. The aim of all of these services is to provide greater quality, efficiency, and cost of care to both practitioners and patients. Each plays a unique role in crafting a well-rounded digital healthcare plan for patients. 

Pros and Cons of Telehealth and Telemedicine 

Like mHealth and eHealth, the usage of telehealth and telemedicine can have positive and negative effects. Let’s uncover what they are.  

Pros of Telehealth and Telemedicine

 

  • Expands the number of specialists and healthcare professional access 
  • Simplifies patient visits which increase patient engagement
  • Is a cost-efficient opportunity 

 

Technological expansions now allow patients access to a wider net of specialists and healthcare professionals. Traveling to a provider is less of a concern with video capabilities. This helps patients who live in a different location see a wider range of healthcare professionals, or help patients see a provider for visits that do not require an in-person exam. 

 

Patient engagement is crucial for the success of their treatment plan. Telehealth and telemedicine services give patients quick access to providers and supporting staff in case treatment plans need alteration. It also helps practitioners to check in with patients conveniently and encourages the continuation of care plans. 

 

Overall, telehealth and telemedicine services are more cost-effective for patients and health care professionals. It saves time traveling and time in the waiting room. Additionally, virtual payment methods are quick, easy and reduce paper billing processes.  

Cons of Telehealth and Telemedicine

 

  • Technical challenges 
  • Limitation to physical exams 
  • Industry regulations

 

On the flip side, technology itself poses challenges. Hardware, software, and wireless connection aren’t foolproof. They can malfunction without notice or in the middle of a virtual exam. Some users may even find switching to technology a more difficult barrier to overcome. 

 

While video conferencing an appointment with a healthcare provider works for certain visits, they may not in all instances. There are times when seeing a provider in person will help find the answers needed for a treatment plan. 

 

Each state has different rules and regulations when it comes to telehealth and telemedicine practices. It may become muddled to decipher waivers and procedures needed during a growing virtual era. As we rely heavily on technology, there are rising concerns regarding how safe and protected information is from hackers and data breaches. 

 

Overall, telemedicine and telehealth have pros and cons, similar to mHealth and eHealth pros and cons. Weighing the benefits and the drawbacks of both help make better, well-informed decisions. 

 

At Innovative HIA, we believe in providing our clients with the most affordable, efficient benefits that are tailored to the needs of their employees. Telemedicine services integrate seamlessly into your benefits package to ensure your employees remain healthy and happy. 

 

To learn more about telehealth and why it’s here to stay, read our article here

 

know the difference betwee mhealth, ehealth, telehealth and telemedicine and how they all work together.

 

Attention Brokers: Are you offering your ALE clients the most affordable Minor Medical Coverage (MEC)? How can you offer your applicable large employers a one-stop shop for all their needs? Benefits are no longer about simply meeting Minimum Essential Coverage options.  You need to offer worksite and voluntary benefits, telehealth options, call center availability, and easy portal management. Why should you offer these options to your employers? Because they want them.

In order for employers to attract and retain great talent, they need great benefit options. This means going beyond standard Minor Medical requirements and offering services that provide value and attract the best workers.

Let’s Start with Voluntary Benefits

Worksite and voluntary benefits include accident insurance, term life insurance, critical illness insurance, and hospital indemnity.

  • Accident insurance includes aid in payment for medical and out-of-pocket expenses that may occur due to an accident occurring.
  • Term life insurance includes a way to provide financial protection for loved ones while employees are working.
  • Critical illness insurance adds a safety net for those who are under-insured.
  • Hospital indemnity benefits help to offset high deductibles and out-of-pocket expenses so a hospital stay does not become a financial crisis.

Next, Consider Offering Your Employees Access to Telehealth Care 

With 24/7 access to doctors, telehealth–also known as Virtual Health–can help employees get care when they need it with added convenience. At Innovative HIA, we offer telehealth options that include behavioral health and therapy access, to give employees the ability to speak to a therapist whenever they need it.* In addition, it helps employees receive necessary prescriptions without having to go to a doctor’s office.

Employers look for convenience when looking for benefits, as a broker you can provide a one-stop-shop for all your ALEs benefits needs. This means 24/7 call center support and easy access to portal management, single-point billing, and US-based customer care.

At Innovative HIA, we offer portal management access to provide employers with the ability to make plan changes, order ID cards, and have them shipped within a few days, check their claim statuses, and give employees the ability to manage their own profiles.

With bilingual call center support, you’re getting licensed representatives to help manage enrollment and provide year-round support. All of our representatives are in-house, which means they understand your client’s needs.

Innovative HIA can provide a one-stop shop for all employers to handle their benefit needs. As a broker, it is your responsibility to provide your employers with the best possible options for their needs. Contact us to learn more!

For more information on how we support employee benefits administration, read our article here

Article originally published on SBMA Benefits

offer your clients the best mec plan