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Shifting Rehab Paradigms

Telemedicine

Published September 12, 2016 9:09 AM by Viktoriya Friedman

In 2004, telemedicine was listed as a key aspect of New York State’s initiative to improve access and quality in health care through advances in technology. Electronic records and electronic drug prescriptions were the other two criteria.

According to Gregory Young, MD,F.A.C.E.P, Medical Director, Western Region of New York State Department of Health, “Telemedicine is a critical part of the future of medicine.” A few years into the initiative, our local government took active role in making this happen. According to Pressconnects, on June 27, 2013, “The Southern Tier Regional Economic Development Council approved an initiative that would allow health care providers in the eight-county region to apply for $2.5 million in funding.”

This initiative, called the Telemedicine and Mobile Technology Fund, is expected to get the green light from the Empire State Development Corp. Board of Directors. Programs such as the Community Revitalization Program and the Rural Initiative Program were established in 2012 using state economic development funds. The Telemedicine and Mobile Technology Fund, the latest in the line of these community revitalization initiatives, would use $2.5 million available from the second round of state funds (2).

Telemedicine means faster and easier access to your healthcare provider. Though, some clients favor remote visits due to difficulties associated with leaving their house, travel expenses and occasional lapses in office schedules, leading to prolonged waiting or on the spot cancelations. Others, like me dislike visiting a germ-ridden waiting room for other reasons. In both cases, a remote access to the medical team is the best solution. Not to say that telemedicine should be used to replace all office visits, but the ones that consists of subjective rather than objective data gathering.

One local facility has provided telemedicine for three years. Susquehanna Nursing and Rehabilitation Center (SNRC) offers tele-visits with a movement disorder specialist from the University of Rochester to their inpatient clients and clients in the community living with movement disorders such as Parkinson’s disease.

Dr. Kevin Biglan, associate professor of Neurology at University of Rochester has been researching benefits of telemedicine in clients with Parkinson’s disease for more than five years. He finds that having access to telemedicine allows for better treatment of symptoms, better satisfaction and better quality of life for clients. Dr. Biglan has been working with Susquehanna Nursing and Rehabilitation Center for the past three years.

In our facility, telemedicine visits have prompted better multidisciplinary communication by involving a skilled therapist and a nurse as part of all the visits. Telemedicine allows for “real-time” visits (where a client can be seen when they are having specific symptoms), minimizes travel costs (including stress) and allows clinical staff in our facility easy access to Dr. Biglan, thus optimizing clients’ quality of care.

The downfall of this program is that insurance does not recognize telemedicine in our region, and most clients have to pay for their visits out of pocket. SNRC  holds an annual fundraiser in the month of April, which is Parkinson’s Awareness Month, to assist clients in the community who are not able to pay for the visits.  Our facility has covered the cost of the visits for those clients residing at SNRC or staying here for short-term rehabilitation.  Despite the cost of this program, monthly telemedicine schedule is always full. Providing quality healthcare at a distance is a great solution for many, but can be challenging and easily abused if the correct quality measures are not utilized.  

1.http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&frm=1&source=web&cd=1&cad=rja&ved=0CC4QFjAA&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.uic.edu%2Fdepts%2Fglstrknet%2Fdoc%2FCare%2FTelemedicine.pdf&ei=nQNTUrl-wpWpAenSgfAB&usg=AFQjCNF6gdt-8aaZaB1Mn1CWWi3r64hD1Q&sig2=gWyg07hlPCWoF1n-kKyLPQ

 

2. Jon Harris for pressconnects July 27, 2013 http://www.pressconnects.com/article/20130627/BUSINESS/306270035/Southern-Tier-economic-council-approves-fund-health-care-initiative

1 comments

As a 3rd year DPT student and consumer of technology, I find telemedicine to be a tremendous technological advancement. If used correctly, I believe this new technology can provide greater access to healthcare for under served populations and ultimately help reduce the cost of health care. Telemedicine levels the playing field and would effectively allow all patients access to the same level of care regardless of geographical location. This advancement could be a tremendous asset to all healthcare providers, but as a SPT, I believe Telemedicine would be beneficial in bridging the gap between clinic visits and safe/proper completion of HEP. While the advancements are tremendous, I believe one of the major draw backs at this time is lack of insurance coverage. Hopefully, research will develop that supports Telemedicine and provides insurance companies with the information required to support/cover these services in an effort to decrease health care costs and provide quality service to all health care consumers.

Jeffrey Harrington, SPT April 12, 2017 1:33 PM
Greenville NC

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