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    DIY Telemedicine

     

    Determine parameters

    Telemedicine has particular appeal for patients who can’t easily make it into an office: disabled patients; patients with chronic conditions who need frequent visits to stay on track; those with transportation challenges; and patients with compromised immune systems, experts say. So practices starting telemedicine need to establish guidelines on which patients and what conditions are good candidates for telemedicine services. 

    Tracy says he recently scheduled a video visit with a patient who was snowbound, for example, but he and others agree patients with certain conditions or symptoms need to be seen in person. Those include any exam where the doctor needs to physically touch the patient, as well as exams that require the use of specialized medical equipment such as stethoscopes.

    On the other hand, patients with chronic conditions who need more frequent visits could invest in mobile apps, such as an otoscope app and attachment, as well as home devices, such as a connected blood pressure cuff or glucometer, and thereby make themselves good candidates for telemedicine
    visits. 

    Sharp recommends physicians select a particular set of patients from that list and conditions compatible with telemedicine visits to use for a pilot program. (Patients with hypertension or diabetes who already come in for regular checkups to help stay on track make good candidates for a pilot program, for example.)

    This allows the practice to evaluate its telemedicine plans and adjust its technology, policies, and procedures—such as how the physician’s camera is positioned to how patients submit data before the telemedicine visit—before rolling it out more broadly.

    “Similar to in-person practice, when using telemedicine, a physician should ensure that patients retain their rights concerning privacy and secured health information, access to their medical records, and information about benefits, risks, and alternatives to proposed treatments or procedures,” says Latoya S. Thomas, director of the State Policy Resource Center at the American Telemedicine Association (ATA).

    Next: Select a business model

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