Telemedicine in Rural Areas

Healthcare providers continue to face new demands that require improved clinical outcomes with reduced length of stays  and  reduced reimbursement.  Rural healthcare providers have a disadvantage in meeting these  requirements by virtue of their geographical location.  According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, “up to 25% of US residents reside in rural areas”.  Residents in rural locations “generally have high poverty rates, larger elderly population, and tend to be in poorer health”.  Many rural areas are Health Professional Shortage Areas (HPSA) as of Jun 19, 2014, according to the US Department of Health and Human Services 6,100 Primary Care Physicians, 4,900 Dentists, 4,000 Mental Health providers that make up the HPSA providers in medically underserved locations.   The reduced population in rural areas has a direct impact on available healthcare providers and the ability to staff Hospitals, Skilled Nursing Facilities, Healthcare clinics, and Physician office.  According to the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), rural Physicians only account for about 10% of the total number of working Physicians.

The US is projected to have a shortage between 45,000 and 90,000 Physicians by 2025.  This shortage will impact all levels of healthcare in the US and patient care is certain to be impacted.  What if healthcare providers in Urban locations could assist in providing care to those in medically underserved locations?  How can specialists provide oversight and guidance to HPSA that are hundreds of miles away?  The Curatess Telemedicine Solutions can help “Connect” remote providers to patients and other providers.

With the large number of medically underserved areas in the US and the growing shortage of Physicians, the Physician care delivery model needs to be reinvented.  Traditional Physician and Patient encounters require a patient or Physician to travel to meet in person.  Advancements in Telemedicine eliminate these artificial geographic barriers.  Curatess offers several solutions to connect remote Physicians to those in need of healthcare in any location with an internet connection.  Our Essential CARE solutions allow remote providers to see the patient in High Definition (HD) with remote control of the HD camera allowing for easy visual evaluation.  The CARE Telemedicine solution also allows a remote provider to hear the patient using a digital stethoscope to listen to heart, lung, and bowel sounds.  The Essential CARE solutions are perfect for Skilled Nursing Facilities and Hospitals who need to connect a remote Physician or specialist.

According to CMS, Telemedicine must meet several criteria to be eligible for reimbursement.  First, the Telemedicine session must originates in an HPSA or reside in a county outside a Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA).  Second, the Telemedicine session must occur within an approved medical facility; the offices of physicians or practitioners, Hospitals, Critical Access Hospitals (CAH), Rural Health Clinics, Federally Qualified Health Centers, Hospital-based or CAH-based Renal Dialysis Centers (including satellites), Skilled Nursing Facilities (SNFs), and Community Mental Health Centers (CMHC).  The Telemedicine session “must use an interactive audio and video telecommunications system that permits real-time communication between you, at the distant site, and the beneficiary, at the originating site”. Lastly, the remote provider must be a Physician, Nurse practitioners (NP), Physician assistants (PA), Nurse-midwives, Clinical nurse specialists (CNS), Certified registered nurse anesthetists, Clinical psychologists (CP), clinical social workers (CSW), Registered dietitians, or nutrition professionals.  When Telemedicine is used and meets the above criteria, the remote providers can use specific HCPCS and CPT codes to submit these services for reimbursement from Medicare.  For example, a Skilled Nursing Facility is eligible for an originating site facility fee using the HCPCS code Q3014, paying $24.83 per Telemedicine session.  The CARE Telemedicine Solutions leverage synchronous or real-time Telemedicine encounters featuring HD Video, Audio, and Diagnostic tools allowing eligible originating sites and providers to be reimbursed by Medicare and elevate the care for those in these medically underserved areas.

The CARE Telemedicine solution will have an immediate impact on patient and resident clinical outcomes.  When a change in condition occurs or Physician consult is needed, a remote Physician or Advance Nurse Practitioner is a call away to perform a remote clinical assessment.  Our solution allows Healthcare providers to be in a rural location immediately without hours of wait times due to the necessity of driving to the site.  Patients have immediate access to their Physicians and Physicians have immediate access to their patients.  Our CARE Telemedicine Solutions demonstrate proven outcomes as 75% of all patients evaluated are treated in place and avoid an admission to the Hospital.   If you are in a rural location that is a medically underserved area, then the CARE Telemedicine solution will transform clinical capabilities.  Curatess understands the barriers to healthcare in rural locations and our solution helps reduce those barriers.  To learn more about how the CARE Telemedicine Solution works or to contact our team, please visit our website at www.curatess.com.

Sources

http://www.ugpti.org/pubs/pdf/DP236.pdf

http://www.hrsa.gov/healthit/toolbox/RuralHealthITtoolbox/Introduction/ruralhealth.html

http://www.aafp.org/about/policies/all/rural-practice-paper.html

http://www.hrsa.gov/shortage/

http://www.hrsa.gov/healthit/toolbox/RuralHealthITtoolbox/Telehealth/whatarethereimbursement.html

https://www.cms.gov/Outreach-and-Education/Medicare-Learning-Network-MLN/MLNProducts/downloads/TelehealthSrvcsfctsht.pdf




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