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Telehealth Frequently Asked Questions

What is telemedicine?

Telemedicine uses telecommunications technology to provide clinical care to patients at a distance. This can take the form of real-time video visits, remote patient monitoring, or store and forward.

 

Are telemedicine and telehealth the same thing?

The terms telemedicine and telehealth are often used interchangeably, however telemedicine is actually a subset of telehealth. Telehealth is the larger umbrella that includes telemedicine, as well as, non-clinical uses of telecommunications technology such as self-monitoring, healthcare-related education, and healthcare operations.

 

Does a patient have to meet with a provider in-person before scheduling a telehealth visit?

This is determined by each individual provider. Some telehealth providers in Wyoming require the first visit to be in-person while many others do not. The establishment of a patient-provider relationship via telemedicine is not prohibited in Wyoming.

 

Is it expensive to implement a telehealth program?

There is little to no cost to start a telehealth program. The Wyoming Department of Health, through the University of Wyoming, provides no-cost, HIPAA-secure videoconferencing licenses to individuals and organizations interested in implementing telehealth programs. The videoconferencing platform used (Zoom) is a web-based system that runs on hardware and software found in most organizations and homes, i.e. PC or Mac desktops/laptops and iOS or Android devices. If required, peripheral devices such as digital stethoscopes, digit otoscopes, etc., can be purchased at relatively inexpensive prices.

 

Will insurance reimburse for telemedicine visits?

In many cases, yes and at the same rate as an in-person visit. Each payer is a little different and their policies for reimbursement are becoming less and less stringent, so it makes sense to check with each payer to understand their rules and policies.

 

Is telehealth technology difficult to use?

No, most videoconferencing software, including Zoom, is designed to be as easy to use as other familiar modern applications. Training and technical support are available at no cost through the WyTN.  Patients and providers with a basic familiarity of online apps should be able to quickly figure out how to use a telehealth application.

 

Is telehealth private and secure?

Yes, but only when it is conducted using an encrypted platform that was designed for that purpose. The no-cost Zoom platform available through the WyTN is HIPAA-secure and is commonly used throughout the U.S for telehealth. Be aware that certain consumer apps like Facetime and Skype may not be secure enough for telemedicine visits.

 

Is the quality of care the same as an in-person visit?

Telemedicine has been found to be a safe, cost-effective and convenient way to provide healthcare services. Although some limitations exist, being able to conduct a robust telehealth encounter to include: taking a good history; assessing the overall appearance of the patient – including mental status, pain level, and toxic or ill appearance; and whether or not the patient might need in-person care. An added benefit to examination via telehealth is the provider can gain information from the home that would not have been available in a clinical setting. Patients are also generally more comfortable in their home and often open up more during a telehealth encounter.

 

What equipment is needed for both patients and providers to do a telehealth visit?

At minimum, patients and providers will need a computer, laptop or mobile device with integrated camera, microphone and speaker. An external webcam, with built in microphone, and external speaker can be connected to existing hardware and are inexpensive to purchase. A decent internet connection is needed at both ends of the telehealth encounter. Ideally, speeds should be at least 15 Mbps download and 5 Mbps upload. Video streaming can occur with slower speeds but these speeds will provide a clearer video experience. To test your internet speed go to speedtest.net.

 

Which use cases or conditions can be treated with telehealth?

This is based on the comfort level of each provider. Certainly, it would make sense to start with the low-hanging fruit and expand services as the comfort level increases. Some of the more common conditions treated by telehealth include: allergic reactions, cold/flu, cough, diarrhea, pink eye, sinus infection, sore throat, rash, vomiting and other general illnesses. Another key use case is medication management as telehealth can have significant impact on medication adherence. Additionally, chronic care management and follow-up appointments can be efficiently conducted via telehealth since the provider is already aware the patient’s condition.

 

Why should I use telehealth? 

Telehealth has many benefits for patients, providers, healthcare facilities and communities (see reverse side). Additional benefits include: 1) positive consumer attitudes towards technology-driven services is at an all-time high and continues to grow. Telehealth will in-turn result in improved patient retention as well as the attraction of new patients; 2) the flexibility and efficiency of delivering a telehealth visit, on-demand or scheduled, based on a provider’s own availability and desire to work remotely; 3) the ease and convenience telehealth provides to patients; and 4) improved access to certain patients to help manage chronic conditions, such as diabetes or cancer.

Contact Us

Wyoming Telehealth Network

1000 E. University Ave., Dept. 4298

Laramie, WY 82071

Phone: 307-766-2766

Email: wy-telehealth@uwyo.edu

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1000 E. University Ave. Laramie, WY 82071
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