May 8, 2011

Telemedicine Coming of Age?

This is not about diabetes, but may affect treatment of diabetes in the future. Telemedicine has been around for a few years, but with many of the advances in recent years, there is now cause to feel more confident about its use and the good that it can do to help areas without large medical centers and specifically rural areas.

Telemedicine is finally getting the light it seems to deserve. In three articles appearing on May 3, 2011, advances in telemedicine are moving forward. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has open the door to make it easier for smaller hospitals to take advantage of doctors with specialties they can not afford. Prior to the new rules, they were required to perform medical checks on all doctors they used as if they were employing them.

Now they are required to do this only for doctors not employed by hospitals elsewhere. If the doctor is already on a hospital staff, they are deemed eligible to operate via electronic means in any hospital that needs their services and Medicare and Medicaid will cover the costs when there is a proven need. The full article covering this is here.

The more important one for me is that our veterans will now get the attention they deserve for PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder). This will allow veterans to avoid long travel times to centers distant from where they live to get the care they need in dealing with PTSD. Previously the veteran was required to travel to major medical centers for the care they needed.

This was not conducive to many veterans because of cost, and for many the fear of traveling and going into places that may be crowded. The studies have shown that costs are less, patients are happier, and the long-term benefits have increased. Not measured is the improvement in the quality of life for the veterans receiving treatment via telemedicine. Read this article here.

The third article is from Florida and also showed improvement in patient care for trauma patients and those needing medical attention immediately. Instead of automatically transporting the patient to the local hospital to have them forward the patient on the the trauma center at a cost of approximately $10,000, telemedicine can determine with the medical personnel on the scene where to send the patient.

This saves time and some monies as if the trip to the trauma center is necessary assistance can be provided en route to the emergency personnel. The center can also assemble the team necessary to treat the patient more effectively upon arrival.

These three articles emphasize the importance and possible cost savings of telemedicine for the advantage of the patients. Expect to hear more about telemedicine during the coming year. Read the last article here.

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