“Several high schools in the Pugent Sound, Washington area will introduce the capability for parents to reach a sports medicine doctor virtually using a cellphone or computer for their children injured while a playing a sport. Physicians will consult and diagnose minor injuries like sprains and bruises, but more serious injuries like concussions would still need to go to the emergency room.
The state of Washington made changes this year to telemedicine law to allow coaches, trainers, students, and parents to log on to private portals to obtain consultations. The benefits of telemedicine include cost and convenience. The cost for an emergency visit is approximately $1400 while a telemedicine consultation costs $50. “We can talk to the athlete. We can ask how it happened. We can actually take the cellphone’s camera and look at the injured part of their body and see if it’s swollen, see if it’s bruised. Then we can come up with a preliminary diagnosis,” said Ryan Dirks, a sports medicine physician assistant.”
Ed Sealover, Denver Business Journal
Colorado’s Medical Board recently adopted guidelines to enact a new telehealth law expanding services to urban residents in addition to rural residents. Additionally, the new rules do not require an initial in person visit, a particular technology, or for patients to be in a certain facility.
Colorado previously has required insurance coverage of telehealth visits for several years in counties of fewer than 150,000 residents, but now residents in larger cities are able to take advantage of the services. Studies show that Colorado faces a shortage of primary care physicians so telehealth allows these physicians to see more patients more efficiently.
The bill does not require insurers to provide for the telehealth benefits until the beginning of 2017. House Bill 1029 was sponsored by Reps. Perry Buck, R-Windsor, and Joann Ginal, D-Fort Collins.
Eric Wicklund – Editor, mHealthNews
Texas and Georgia appear to be leading the way in implementing telemedicine to public schools. The Children’s Health System of Dallas is expanding a pilot project in 2 preschools to 57 schools in four counties. The program allows for a virtual consultation between the school nurse and a doctor or nurse practitioner at Children’s Health. The cost of a telemedicine cart is $22,000 and is being funded by a Medicaid waiver. “You want to talk about access? You want to talk about affordability? This is their access,” says State Rep. Jodie Laubenberg. “We can treat the child, have him ready to go, and we can leave him here. … You don’t have to take off work. He doesn’t have to leave school. It’s less disruptive.”
Georgia through the Georgia Partnership for Telehealth (GPT) is also looking to expand its school telemedicine program. The GPT has received a grant from the Georgia Office of Rural Health’s 2015 Rural School-Based Telehealth Center Initiative to expand its pilot program to eight schools. “For a variety of reasons, whether it be distance or financial factors, not all children have access to the medical care that they need to grow in a healthy and happy manner,” Sherrie Williams, the GPT’s executive director, said in a press release. “This grant program will help get more children the care that they need and ultimately helps foster better lives for students in rural Georgia communities. That is a huge victory and we are glad to be a part of it.”