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    DIY Telemedicine

    Michael Tracy, MD, received an urgent phone call from a patient who had cut his hand and was bleeding; his patient wanted to know if he should visit Tracy’s office or go straight to the emergency department.

    Tracy, a primary care physician in Powell, Wyo., was working to quickly get information about the injury when the patient suggested they use their iPhone’s FaceTime function so Tracy could see the cut for himself. Tracy saw right away that the patient had an arterial bleed and immediately sent him to the nearest ED.This article appears in the 4/10/18 issue of Medical Economics.

    Tracy says the experience showed him how valuable video visits can be for his three-physician direct care practice, 307Health. “My biggest hope is we can use telemedicine to improve the delivery of care,” he says.

    Technology advances over the past decade have made telemedicine much easier to implement and integrate with other computer apps, according to health IT experts, physicians, and practice consultants. 

    However, establishing telemedicine within a primary care practice—especially a small one that can’t access the technical, financial, and managerial resources of larger institution—requires a calculated approach.

    “It should be part of your strategic plan. You need to think about the workflow and the staff required,” says Robert Tennant, director of health IT policy for the Medical Group Management Association, headquartered in Englewood, Colo. “You have to have policies, the technology, the security, and the reimbursement all in place to make it work.” 

    Next: Calculate the potential

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