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Why Telemedicine? (Part 1) by Dennis Thomas

On March 23, 2010 President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act (ACA). This law put into place a series of comprehensive health insurance reforms that has had an end result of bringing telemedicine to the forefront. This reform is making providers pause and look at patients, their treatment and diagnosis in a new light.

Why telemedicine and why now?

• Telemedicine is hardly new. Over the past few decades there have been multiple programs and pilots that have provided documented care, costs and benefits. Telemedicine has also demonstrated the ability to benefit in a wide range of situations in health care ranging from early disease identification to chronic illness management.
• Technology for telemedicine has grown and is now dependable, easy to adopt and use by patients and their providers. For many solutions, the patient and provider already have a solution and that device is in their pocket.
• Internet access and core infrastructure technologies are more widespread and available allowing for easier and quicker access to a knowledge base.
• The easing of regulations and defining reimbursement to the provider has now made telemedicine a viable option, even while the reform is still changing.

With these reasons clearly outlined and defined, one can focus on developing a telemedicine strategy with not only within the practice but with health plan representatives, clinicians and patients. Telemedicine falls into three categories: tele-visits, tele-consults and, tele-monitoring. All three solutions focus on a provider to patient care from initial diagnosis and treatment plans all the way up to collaboration and situational monitoring of a patient, whether they are home bound or at a facility.


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