Down Under’s Crikey health blog reviews a Canadian study of telemedicine video in use with post-stroke patients and caregivers. MOST (Moving On After Stroke), a group-based self-management program, connected rural Ontario patients and caregivers with health care providers and each other via online video. Satisfaction levels were fairly high overall with good marks given to less time and travel costs, access to services and a greater feeling of connectedness. But video lags and picture quality led to significant difficulties for some participants in interpreting body language (which they may have had difficulty with because of stroke). A limitation of telemedicine is the quality and ease of use of your internet connection and video link–yours and the doctor’s. Article.
But gaining speed in the US….
US insurers are proceeding with video consults. The latest is Highmark (Blue Cross Blue Shield of Pennsylvania) which is partnering with Teladoc to launch a pilot program for 10,000 of its members. Each consult is $38 and is for non-urgent conditions. Through encouraging consults for minor illnesses, Highmark hopes to reduce ER admissions. By 3rd Quarter of 2012, Highmark plans to offer telemedicine consultations to all members as a covered benefit. Teladoc also plans to develop a mobile version by end of year. Information Week Highmark joins telehealth pilots by Humana for CHF patients (Trapollo partnership, 3 April) and UnitedHealthcare’s $700,000 grant to the California Telehealth Network to expand broadband service (they label as telehealth) plus training and implementation in rural California districts. Payers make moves towards remote health, Fierce HealthIT.
(The authors of these articles, not Editors Donna or Steve, often use ‘telehealth’ to mean ‘telemedicine’. Except when they don’t. Editor Donna has changed it to our established usage. See our ‘What is Telecare’. )