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Telemedicine: Is the Future Now?

Telemedicine v2In an opinion article in the NY Times Health Section hematologist oncologist Ezekiel Emmanuel, the brother of former White House Chief of Staff Rohm Emmanuel and husband of the editor of the NY Times Health Section, predicts that there will really not be a physician manpower shortage in the future.  He cites the use of nurse practitioners, physician assistants and technology as modifying factors that will make the nation’s physician manpower supply adequate.

Telemedicine has been in existence, but not used extensively, for the last 20 years. It was initially developed for rural and remote areas to have access to physician care. In the 21st century, with cameras attached to computers and smart phones, it is possible for a patient to contact a physician and they can view each other on a screen while conducting a traditional health history interview. In the state of Florida, the Florida Board of Medicine and the Department of Professional Regulation will allow physicians to engage in such a visit with their existing patients. However, they may not take on new patients or care for patients who are not theirs who reside outside the state they are licensed to practice medicine in.

Tele-visits are considered non-covered services by insurance companies.  This means they will not pay for these types of visits or reimburse the insured patient if they engage in a telemedicine visit and are charged a fee for that visit.

The purpose of this article is to discover if there is interest in our practice in establishing a telemedicine link. It would not replace the office visit or home visit or hospital visit but be an extra service.  Patients travelling, or out of state, would be able to set up a time for a communication and using a computer, a web camera and secure software we can talk and observe face to face. Patients would be required by law to sign an advanced beneficiary notice (ABN) which states that you know that this is a non-covered service. We would set up a time to chat.  A fee would need to be established for the professional time.  Since this is all conjecture at this point a $25 fee for up to ten minutes with $5 for each additional five minutes might be a starting point for discussion.

Please let me know how you feel about setting up a telemedicine service by either communicating directly at your visit or emailing me at DrR@BocaConciergeDoc.com


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