Patient, technology groups push to expand digital care

Various groups see telemedicine as a potential boon for people with complex chronic diseases who have difficulty getting to the doctor. But there are hurdles from Medicare payment rules to state licensing restrictions.

The Associated Press: The Doctor Will See You Now Via Webcam, Smartphone
Now patient groups and technology advocates are pushing to expand the digital care to people with complex chronic diseases that make a doctor's trip more than just an inconvenience. Among the hurdles: While Medicare covers some forms of telehealth, it doesn't typically pay for in-home video exams. Plus, doctors who practice by video-chat must be licensed in whatever states their long-distance patients live. Some states restrict the kind of care and prescribing available via telemedicine (5/12).

WBUR: Author Robin Cook: When Your Smartphone Becomes Your Doctor
Some doctors might tell you that their electronic medical record systems have already plunged them into a horror story along the lines of a "Coma"-like Robin Cook thriller. Dr. Cook himself sounds the alarm about the possible dangers of high-tech health tools in his latest bestseller, "Cell." (As in cell phone. As in an app that functions as your dream doctor. Except when things go wrong in that sinister Robin-Cook-ish way.)… We chatted at a lunch last week for the Friends of the Newton Free Library, where Dr. Cook taught a rapt audience the rudiments of thriller-writing (Goldberg, 5/12).

The Wall Street Journal's Venture Capital Dispatch: Health Software Funding, Driven By Obamacare, Hits Post-Dot-Com High
One of the less-divisive outcomes of the Affordable Care Act has been the law's spurring of a new generation of health-care software startups. Prompted by the ACA, better known as Obamacare, the U.S. health-care industry is relying on startups with technology to ease its transition into a new era. Health-software startups, in turn, are relying on venture capitalists at a rate not seen in more than 13 years. Such companies raised $237.5 million in the first quarter of 2013, the most raised in any single quarter since 2000, according to Dow Jones VentureSource (Zinsli, 5/12).

The Wall Street Journal's The Informed Patient: Interactive Video Helps Patients Get Access To Medical Specialists
Even in some major population centers, medical specialists are in short supply in fields including high-risk pregnancy, behavioral health and neurology. A shortage of nearly 65,000 nonprimary-care specialists is projected by 2025, the Association of American Medical Colleges says. Big health-care systems, where most specialists work, are turning to interactive video consultations to give patients high-quality ongoing care for complex problems without requiring them to travel long distances or wait months for an appointment (Landro, 5/12).

The Associated Press:  Mercy Plans Suburban St. Louis Telemedicine Center
A suburban St. Louis hospital chain is preparing to begin construction of a virtual care center that seeks to address a shortage of doctors -; particularly specialists -; by offering telemedicine to underserved regions of the country. Mercy Health is breaking ground Tuesday on a $50 million four-story, 120,000-square-foot telemedicine center in Chesterfield, Missouri. Plans call for the center to open next year with nearly 300 physicians, nurses and support staff. The doctor shortage is acute in rural areas. A 2010 report by the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services showed that only 18 percent of Missouri's primary care physicians were in rural areas, and specialists are even harder to come by (5/12).

Meanwhile, the Pentagon is readying an $11B contract to overhaul its digital record system -

Politico: DOD Seeks To Overhaul eHealth Records System
The Pentagon is readying an $11 billion contract to overhaul its electronic health records system, the biggest federal IT job since last fall's debacle and one that will test the administration's procurement finesse. DOD will issue a final request for proposals late this summer for the project aimed at arming military medicine with state-of-the-art records (Grasgreen, 5/12).

http://www.kaiserhealthnews.orgThis article was reprinted from with permission from the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent news service, is a program of the Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonpartisan health care policy research organization unaffiliated with Kaiser Permanente.


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News-Medical.Net.
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