While many companies look to charity as a means of philanthropic tax-cuts, we here at Secure Medical have a very personal investment in the enrichment of the lives of special needs people.

Many of our own employees here are no stranger to special needs children, and as such we make a personal point to select specific causes we believe in.

The Suzy Foundation was founded by Jaime and Jeremy on the principle that children of all ages and capacities can full fill their wishes and dreams, despite the daily struggles they may encounter. They specialize in providing assistive equipment that is not typically covered under medical insurance. We here at Secure Medical believe in that principle and we strive to support the Suzy Foundation wherever we can.

Our staff here regularly volunteers their time to help enrich the lives of others. Secure Medical is whole-heartedly dedicated to the success of this foundation.

1 in 6 children ages 3-17 has one or more developmental disabilities related to learning, physical ability, language, and behavioral health. Some of these conditions can be lifelong, and some children do grow out them as well. Overall, most children display signs of difficulty or impairment at an early age.

Some symptoms may be manifested through early childhood and during periods of accelerated learning. Many of these children require additional tools and equipment to help them live and prosper in a society that simply doesn’t understand them.

Things like stereotypes, politicization, and the educational processes in the U.S. often lead to most children and parents feeling sidelined or exploited. This is where the Suzy Foundation comes in. By providing a platform by which parents can seek guidance and financial assistance in acquiring the specialized equipment parents need, the Suzy Foundation is helping more and more children bring their aspirations to fruition.

We here at Secure Medical strive to do everything we can to donate to and exemplify such an incredible organization, and we are proud to do so.

Some of us have very personal involvement with this cause. At the time of writing this, just about every single one of our employees is either currently involved in the care of, or working to help teach a child with a developmental condition, or has a family member or friend in that situation. We value the lives of these children as we do our own. We want to watch them succeed in life.

We want to watch them grow and flourish into the amazing people we know they are. We want to push them to be the very best version of themselves that they can be. We believe so strongly in this foundation because we understand the beauty of it.

As a parent that is struggling financially to take care of a special needs individual, having a place that can provide a helping hand, no matter how small, is something to be cherished and celebrated. Secure Medical has donated thousands of hours and money to the Suzy Foundation in an effort to show support and to help these children live a life of love and happiness.

The truth is, these children aren’t just people we know. They’re our brothers, they are sisters and daughters, our sons and cousins. We love them unconditionally and we support them knowing that things don’t come easy to them. We celebrate the little successes and we aim to provide a safe, comfortable environment for them to grow and learn and prosper.

The Suzy Foundation serves as a catalyst to the success of these individuals by helping parents and care-takers obtain basic needs equipment at an affordable cost. If you would like to donate to them, please visit http://www.SuzyFoundation.com

Owing to the wide array of variables involved, it can be hard to provide an accurate estimate of exactly how much telemedicine software can cost. To gain an idea about the cost, it is essential to ask questions such as – what is the scope of your practice? What is the number of users you have? How is advanced and complex the technology you’re considering? What are the features and elements of this technology?

There is a multitude of technological systems with varied features on the market; to begin narrowing down your options, it is essential to chalk out a budget for yourself and take additional costs into account (such as training for staff, extra equipment, and setup). Your budget will determine which software you select, and the features you choose for the system.

The more complex and features-laden a software is, the more expensive it will be. A system can range from anything as simple as a webcam and microphone setup to an entire setup dedicated to telemedicine, mobile devices, etc. Telemedicine software that requires minimal setup and training will obviously cost less to implement.

Medical devices specific to specialties: Devices of this sort vary as per the specialty they are required for. It is advisable to opt for a system that can be scaled later on, as in the initial launch phases you might be unclear on what exactly you might need (or what might be required later on, after the system has been established and is up and running). So, you can start with a basic setup, and then grow it later on by adding more specialties as you get a better idea about what you need to do to add greater value and dimension to your practice.

Platform for communication and video conferencing: The successful establishment of real-time remote virtual connections between doctors and patients relies on a solid, dependable, and safe platform for communicating. This is how physicians can give patients the familiar and comfortable impression of an in-person visit with a doctor.

Hardware packaging for telemedicine: Cases, carts, and wall mounts are some types of telemedicine hardware and software. The key issue for buyers is making sure the packaging is as per their requirements, although some also take aesthetics into consideration. It would be wise to opt for packaging that is modular, so a variety of specialties can be configured smoothly.

Training: The right kind of training will help your team use the system and its features correctly and to their fullest potential. Generally, two types of training are required – user training (for providers, nurses, and other staff members using the system as part of their job), and technical training (for the IT staff).

Owing to its status as a new innovation in healthcare practice, telemedicine regulations are undergoing constant change. Medical associations such as the AMA and FSMB are working on establishing guidelines for telemedicine practice, while states are working on rolling out new laws in order to sanction policies for telemedicine.

Regulations for telemedicine also define the rules for reimbursement that Medicaid and other private payers in a particular state will be expected to adhere to. In light of the sudden and steady growth of new telemedicine businesses and increasing demand among patients for virtual healthcare, the amount of legislation pertaining to telemedicine that is currently awaiting ratification is higher than ever before. Most states in America have either recently established new telemedicine laws, or are awaiting the decision for a bill that has been proposed.

Cross-state Licensing

One of the main benefits that telemedicine provides is offering patients the ability to obtain healthcare by connecting with doctors remotely, regardless of their own location or that of the healthcare provider. However, it is important to note that since providers only have a license to practice in a particular state, they can legally only offer care through telemedicine to patients residing in the same state. At the moment, 49 state medical boards have the requirement that doctors providing care via telemedicine need to be licensed in the state where their patient resides.

Obtaining Patient’s Informed Consent

In some states, it is mandatory for healthcare providers to obtain the informed consent of a patient before the provision of telemedicine services. Some laws stipulate the obtaining of written consent and others require verbal consent, while some do not require any consent at all. Whatever the laws might be in a certain state, however, it is always a good idea for providers to ensure that patients are well informed about telemedicine and fully aware of what sort of services they should expect.

Online Prescriptions

Most states have laws regarding which types of medications providers can issue e-prescriptions for, and which medicines cannot be prescribed electronically. In most cases, it is permissible to prescribe schedule III to V drugs online. However, most schedule II medicines (generally used for management of chronic pain) cannot be prescribed through telemedicine, as rules dictate that an in-person examination needs to be conducted before the prescription of such drugs.

A Pre-existing Relationship between Patient and Healthcare Provider

In several states, laws stipulate that any doctors and patients conducting a virtual visit via telemedicine need to have a pre-existing relationship. Generally, this means that the patient and doctor must have undergone at least one in-person consultation.

A key, rising issue of concern in the United States’ healthcare scenario is the fact that residents of rural areas have very limited access to healthcare. This is an issue that affects groups such as military veterans and more than 560 tribes of Native Americans throughout the country.

The healthcare scenario in Rural America
The situation of healthcare in rural areas is impacted by many factors that are not present in more central, urban areas – these include limited access to broadband internet and to technological arrangements in general, as well as a significantly high patient-to-provider ratio. As per the National Rural Health Association (NRHA), remote rural areas have 39.8 doctors per 100,000 individuals, as compared to the ratio in urban areas, which is 53.3 doctors per 100,000 people.

There are numerous other inequalities in the healthcare system in rural parts of the United States. As per the NRHA, treatment for mental health conditions is extremely low in rural areas. This is because of a lack of available mental health specialists, and a deep-rooted sense of stigma surrounding mental health problems, which prevents patients from seeking help. As a result, suicide is twice as likely among the youth in rural areas.

Remote areas also display a higher prevalence of heart diseases and diabetes; in addition, usage of tobacco is also much higher in rural areas as compared to urban areas. Added to these issues is the fact that the per capita income in rural areas is nearly $9200 less than it is in urban areas. Combined, all these factors point toward a healthcare pandemic in the rural areas of the United States.

Using Telemedicine as leverage
Admittedly, telemedicine is not a panacea that will bring about an end to all the healthcare problems plaguing rural America. However, telemedicine does have the capability to even out the patient-to-physician ratio and improve rural area residents’ access to healthcare. It is a feasible alternative healthcare option for those living in the more remote areas of the United States.

As per a Health Data Management article authored by Greg Slabodkin, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) conducted interviews with Medicaid officials from 6 different states, and the findings revealed that levels of telemedicine use a higher in rural areas as compared to the more urban areas. The auditors from the GAO discovered that in the rural state of Montana, for example, telemedicine is used to connect patients to specialists not only within the state but out-of-state too.

Medicaid programs, unlike Medicare, are run by the state – as such, they are subject to state laws regarding the practice of telemedicine. Owing to this, the reimbursement of services provided via telemedicine depends largely on the policy of a particular state.

As per a recent report by the Center for Connected Health Policy, this is a brief summary of the situation for Medicaid’s telemedicine reimbursement across the United States:
46 state Medicaid programs offer coverage for live video
9 state Medicaid programs provide coverage for telemedicine services provided via store-and-forward
14 state Medicaid programs provide coverage for RPM (Remote Patient Monitoring)
Just 3 state Medicaid programs (MN, MS, AK) cover all three telemedicine types
26 state Medicaid programs reimburse a transmission or facility fee (or both).

In order to conduct thorough research on telemedicine, it is essential to have a reliable source of information.

The following are three excellent sources for keeping tabs on Medicaid’s telemedicine coverage:

The National Telehealth Policy Resource Center. They have created a highly useful interactive state-wise map of telehealth policy.
State Medicaid agency websites. If you don’t know the website for your state’s Medicaid agency, here is a complete directory.

The American Telemedicine Association. The ATA regularly tracks policy updates for telemedicine and publishes quarterly reports on the latest news and situation of state legislation for telemedicine.

You can find the latest report here.

Factors that impact Medicaid’s telemedicine reimbursement. The rules and regulations for telemedicine reimbursement are different in each state and are not always completely clear. The following are some factors that can have an impact on your reimbursement for telemedicine via Medicaid:
Eligible providers (NPs, PAs)

Health Services covered
Is cross-state medical licensing permitted?
Is a pre-existing provider-patient relationship required?
Are there any location-specific limitations on providers or patients?
The kind of fee that needs to be reimbursed (facility, transmission, or both)
CPT codes that are applicable

Although many states are working on the expansion of reimbursement for telehealth, others are still set on containing and limiting the delivery of telehealth services. While each state has its own unique laws, rules and Medicaid program policies, there are certain similar trends which come to light if several policies are scrutinized. For instance, Medicaid reimbursement for live video is more frequent than reimbursement for remote monitoring of patients and store-and-forward.

The time period between 2013 to 2015 saw steady growth and upward trends in reimbursement for store-and-forward and remote monitoring of patients; however, this growing number has currently reached a sudden halt, and remains the same as it was at the time our last report was published, in July 2015. However, there are some promising signs – although some states are not moving forward on telehealth, others are progressing in this regard.

In Washington, for example, the Medicaid program now provides some reimbursement for services delivered via store-and-forward. On the other hand, the Medicaid program in Oklahoma has stopped reimbursement for store-and-forward. These differing policies point at a wider issue regarding the unpredictable nature of policies throughout the country.

Some key findings are as follows:
• As it was the previous year, 47 states and Washington DC offer reimbursement for certain types of live video through Medicaid fee-for-service. Iowa’s Medicaid program established that they do offer reimbursement for live video; however, the telemedicine policy for Utah is not available, which means Utah cannot be included in the list of states that provide reimbursement for live video. Owing to this, the number of states that offer reimbursement for telemedicine services remains the same as last year.

• As mentioned previously, Oklahoma’s Medicaid program does not provide reimbursement for store-and-forward anymore, while Washington’s Medicaid program now does so. So, the number of states that reimburse for store-and-forward continues to be a total of nine. This number does not include states that provide reimbursement only for teleradiology.

• Since July 2015, no changes have been observed in state Medicaid programs’ provision of reimbursement for remote patient monitoring; it continues to be in effect in 16 states.

• Five Medicaid programs, for the states of Washington, Minnesota, Alaska, Mississippi and Illinois, provide reimbursement for all three, although this is subject to certain restrictions. This has increased by one since July 2015.

Upon first impact of hurricanes Harvey and Irma, the primary healthcare priority was the physical health of those affected by the disasters. However, in the wake of the hurricanes, the mental well-being of the residents also became a chief concern for healthcare providers. Not only have telemedicine services be used to connect storm-affected persons to traditional healthcare providers, they are also being used as a vital method for catering to behavioral health needs.

“Once the immediate physical danger has passed, then people start to experience the traumatic feelings of realizing that perhaps they’ve lost their home or maybe they’re in great financial distress,” Dr. Sylvia Romm, medical director at American Well, pointed out. “That’s where the therapist can come in and help them move forward with their lives.”

In the aftermath of the hurricanes, behavioral health is one of the free services being provided by American Well and others.

Telemedicine is an appropriate and effective method for the provision of aid to those affected by natural disasters, as many of the victims are displaced from their homes in an emergency situation. “You have such large numbers of people who’ve been displaced,” Romm explained. “Even if they had a therapy relationship, chances are they wouldn’t be able to access them any longer.”

Larry Gleit, executive vice president of specialty care at MDLive, explains that this is so because, in addition to patients, healthcare providers have also been displaced by the disaster. “Part of why telemedicine becomes so important is that all of the providers live in the community have just experienced the same natural disasters.”

In addition, Gleit pointed out that a scarcity of behavioral health providers is already being felt. “In general, there’s a dependency and need to use virtual care,” he stated. “The need becomes compounded in situations like this.” During the weeks following the hurricanes Harvey and Irma, MDLive provided people in affected areas telemedicine visits free of cost.

Drones were also employed by the American Red Cross, for the very first time, to gain an idea about the extent of damage in parts of Texas, and to obtain an accurate assessment about which areas were most in need of assistance.

Integrating current telemedicine techniques into your healthcare practice can provide you multiple advantages. These include reduced costs of healthcare, a more efficient practice, increased revenue, and provision of easier access to healthcare for your patients, all resulting in healthier, more satisfied patients who wish to remain under your care.

Convenience is the magic word in today’s world, and this holds true in the field of healthcare too. The addition of telehealth to your practice will help your patients obtain quick yet customized care, without having to deal with setting appointments, wasting time, and shouldering the cost of in-person visits.

The option of virtual visits can make accessing healthcare easy for patients who are housebound, live in distant locations, or are unable to take time off their jobs.

Virtual monitoring and consultation, along with electronic storage of data, decrease the service costs of healthcare to a great extent, increasing cost-efficiency for healthcare providers and patients, as well as insurance companies. In addition, telemedicine helps cut down on avoidable visits to the ER for minor issues and reduces the transport costs for routine checkups.

By using telehealth, fast and appropriate specialist access can be provided to patients residing in distant or rural areas. The specialist to the rural patient ratio in the United States is greatly imbalanced; for every 100,000 patients in remote areas, there are just 43 available specialists.

As a result of this shortage, patients have a hard time obtaining consultations in life-threatening circumstances or for rare/chronic diseases. In addition, they often have to travel long distances to meet appointments and receive care.

Patients’ commitment to their own care is vital for improving health and reducing costs. As pointed out by Jan Oldenburg (Ernst & Young Senior Advisory Services Manager) to Healthcare IT News, “[t]he high cost of disengaged consumers affects everybody.” Telemedicine compels patients to contribute a higher level of involvement in their own care, and this can push them to be more regular are careful about meeting appointments and adhering to schedules. This increased involvement can also help lower the rates of obesity and use of tobacco, by motivating healthier lifestyles among patients.

Telemedicine is focused primarily on the benefit and convenience of the patient – e.g. the provision of appropriate and timely care. This is essential, in order to ensure that the care provided is high in quality. Using telemedicine, patients are able to obtain urgent consultations as and when they experience any health issue and gain information on options for treatment in no time.

A recent study reveals that patients who receive care via telemedicine display lower rates of stress, depression, and anxiety, in addition to having 38% fewer admissions in hospitals.

There are multiple treatment options for BPH, and when selecting a method, it is important for men to deliberate on the pros and cons of each. The option of prostate surgery has widely been considered the most effective method of treating BPH, but it is also the treatment option involving the greatest number of risks.

Treatment of BPH through medication is suitable for men who display major symptoms. Medicines for the treatment of BPH include alpha-blockers, which work to relax the prostate muscles and the bladder neck, consequently relaxing the urinary obstruction which occurs owing to an enlarged prostate in BPH.

Side effects of such medication include fatigue, headaches, lightheadedness, or difficulty with ejaculation. The most common types of alpha-blockers used for treating BPH include alfuzosin (Uroxatral), tamsulosin (Flomax), and medication that is older including silodosin (Rapaflo), terazosin (Hytrin), or doxazosin (Cardura).

The enlargement of the prostate in BPH is directly linked to DHT, so these medicines and help decrease the prostate size by 25% over 6-12 months. As a result, it takes this long to see betterment in urinary symptoms of BPH.

Transurethral resection of the prostate (TURP) is another procedure that has long been used for the treatment of BPH. Following the administration of anesthesia, a specialized instrument is inserted into the urethra via the penis. The instrument is then used to cut away parts of the inner prostate, thereby allowing for easier, unobstructed flow of urine from the bladder.

Laser treatment: There are many laser procedures available, and some of these can be administered in a doctor’s office with little to no anesthesia required. They focus on removing the tissue in the prostate that is causing obstructions. In these procedures, there is generally less bleeding involved and the recovery time is shorter than that for TURP.

Microwave therapy:
This type of therapy is usually delivered in the doctor’s office and is centered on using microwave energy to kill some cells in the prostate, which leads to its gradual shrinking.

Telemedicine has had profound implications on doctor-patient interactions and the provision of treatment and healthcare. However, despite its multiple benefits, the healthcare world has been slow in accepting and implementing telemedicine, and the entire process has been interspersed with complications. All this leads up to the big question – is telemedicine the healthcare of the future?

What are the implications for traditional healthcare organizations?
The hesitation to adopt telemedicine in clinics and hospitals is motivated, in part, by the apprehension that it might take the place of in-person contact and consultations between providers and patients. If patients can access their healthcare providers from the comfort of their homes, why would they bother coming to hospitals and clinics? However, this is nothing more than a misconception.

Instead of fearing the change, healthcare providers need to realize that telemedicine can be a great way to increase revenue. Setting up a system which allows patients remote access to doctors for virtual consultations will keep losses from skipped appointments to a minimum. Even if patients are unable to travel to the hospital/clinic for some reason or the other, they can still keep their appointment by arranging a virtual visit and then submitting payment for it online.

Therefore, the solutions provided by telehealth should be seen for what they are – effective growth opportunities for businesses, without incurring extra costs or utilizing excessive amounts of resources.

What are patients’ opinions on telehealth
Patients’ views on telehealth solutions are divided. Some patients are of the opinion that it is impossible to provide complete and thorough health care, diagnosis and treatment without an in-person visit and a physical examination. Patients who reside in rural or remote locations, however, feel that it is an effective and convenient solution, as it gives them the ability to consult specialists, which would be very difficult for them otherwise.

A global revenue forecast for telemedicine (2013-2018)
On a global scale, an increase has been detected in telehealth services and devices, suggesting that adoption of telehealth is on the rise. In light of this, the market is estimated to be worth $4.5 billion USD by 2018.

This growth and prediction suggest that despite the suspicions about telehealth and the quality of the care it provides, it is gradually gaining acceptance among providers and patients, as it increases convenience and ease of access to care, consequently leading to better healthcare results.

The growing pervasiveness of telemedicine software usage is also due, in part, to the increase in mobile phone usage, and changes in the behavior of patients, who are now connected 24/7 through smartphones and wearable gadgets such as smartwatches. In addition, the growing adoption of telemedicine can also be attributed to the ease it provides to chronically ill patients and those living in remote areas where they have little to no access to specialists.