Telemedicine News & Updates 8-30-2017

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Blue Cross and Blue Shield Federal Employee Program (FEP) Selects Teladoc to Provide Telehealth Services
The Blue Cross and Blue Shield Service Benefit Plan, also known as the Federal Employee Program has selected Teladoc, Inc. (@teladoc) to provide general medical and behavioral health services for the 2018 benefit year, allowing millions of federal employees around the country anytime, anywhere to access quality health care services through multiple devices – mobile app and web video capabilities, as well as phone – along with easy-to-use tools and alerts to encourage member use and engagement.

Indica MD Brings a Medical Marijuana Telehealth Platform to California and New York (@indicaMDhas launched to provide patients in California and New York a new source for medical marijuana. The company is an online medical marijuana doctor service that provides patient evaluation for the safe, complementary and alternative use of cannabis. Physicians are licensed in California and New York and can approve patients for their medical marijuana card so they are able to gain access to all medical cannabis dispensaries in their state.

Stratus Video Ranked 201st on Inc. 5000 List of Fastest-Growing Companies in US
Stratus Video (@stratusvideo), an industry leader in innovative video interpretation and telehealth solutions, announced that the company was ranked 201st on Inc. Magazine’s 2017 list of the 5,000 fastest-growing private companies in the US, measured by overall revenue growth over three years. This is Stratus Video’s second consecutive year ranking number one in the telecommunications category, and its fifth year making the Inc. 5000 list, elevating the company to the prestigious Inc. 5000 Honor Roll.

Telehealth’s Biggest Growth Sector: Behavioral Health
Behavioral and mental health seem like a natural fit for telehealth’s capabilities: remote, convenient, and instantaneous in case of crisis, unbound by a patient’s locality. Faichi Solutions (@FaichiSolutions) reports that he month of August has been a standout month for behavioral telehealth, between government programs, studies, and private companies starting initiatives or investing in others.

TelaCare is the First Telemedicine Company to Add a No Additional Cost Nationwide Behavioral Health Platform
TelaCare (@telacareinc), a national telehealth technology and services company, announced that it has added behavioral health services in addition to its telehealth services on TelaCare, one of the fastest growing telemedicine companies according to Telemedicine Magazine.

BDI Global Launches Dedicated Cyber Risk Insurance Program For Small Health And Telehealth Providers
Health and telehealth providers face complex and rapidly evolving cyber risks. Generic off-the-shelf cyber risk programs have been unsuccessful in providing adequate protection for these unique exposures. BDI Global and The Medical Risk Institute joined forces to develop a specialized cyber risk insurance program, SafeHealth, exclusively for the cyber risks, compliance, and regulatory issues confronting health and telehealth providers.

American Telemedicine Association Joins National Consortium Calling Attention to the Negative Health Effects of Climate Change
The American Telemedicine Association (@AmericanTelemed) President Dr. Peter Yellowlees, MD, MBBS, will join the Medical Society Consortium on Climate & Health, consistent with ATA’s healthcare leadership role. The Consortium works to raise awareness of the negative effects of climate change on health and to educate the public, its constituents, and policymakers about the long-term health benefits of decreasing greenhouse gas emissions, among other preventative measures.

Medicare Payments for Telehealth Increased 28% in 2016: What You Should Know
Nathaniel Lacktman of Foley & Lardner LLP reports that telehealth providers can celebrate another successful year of growth, as CMS reported a 28% increase over total 2016 payments for telehealth services under the Medicare program. Providers continue to successfully integrate telehealth services into their traditional health care delivery approaches, and are realizing payment opportunities both within the Medicare FFS program and in other sources of revenue.

In State News:
Massachusetts Debates Telemedicine Parity Laws
While insurers and hospitals alike may support telemedicine, payment for services has become a contentious issue. Hospitals trying to get reimbursement for these services at the same price as in-person visits have faced pushback from insurers, who claim that the cost of delivering telemedicine is lower and should be compensated accordingly. The debate has made its way to Beacon Hill in the form of House Bill No. 267, which would require insurers to reimburse doctors for all telemedicine services, including audio-only and email, at the same rate as in-person visits, as well as specifically include this coverage in all Medicaid and state employee health plans. The bill is supported by the Massachusetts Hospital Association, which claims it will benefit consumers by saving them the time and stress of physically going to the doctor’s office. Launches in North Carolina, Offers Free Birth Control for New Users
Nurx (@nurxapp) is a telemedicine startup, based in San Francisco, focused on making birth control, as well as Truvada for Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis more accessible to everyone through an app. With the app, users can get a prescription from a doctor and have their medication delivered right to their door. Nurx launched the birth control app and service in North Carolina on Tuesday, August 22, 2017.

Telehealth adaptation continues to grow — 34 states have laws supporting reimbursement
Health Data Management reports that a total of 34 states now have laws on the books requiring insurance plans to cover telehealth services. Most recently, governors in Oklahoma and Texas have signed laws requiring payment for some telemedicine services. That’s an encouraging trend for the distance care industry, which for years struggled against barriers imposed by state and federal regulations that restricted reimbursement.

Upcoming Events:

SPS 2017 Telehealth Conference
What: 3rd National Telemedicine & Telehealth Service Provider Showcase
When: October 2-3, 2017
Where: Phoenix, AZ
Event Hashtag: #TTSPS17

ATA’s Fall Forum Edge 2017
What: ATA’s Fall Forum Edge 2017
When: October 2 – 4, 2017
Where: Washington, DC
Event Hashtag: #ATAEDGE

ATA 2018 Annual Conference & Tradeshow
What: ATA 2018 Annual Conference & Tradeshow
When: April 29 – May 1, 2018
Where: Chicago, IL
Event Hashtag: #ATA2018

CMS Covered Telehealth Services
You can download the list of services payable under the Medicare Physician Fee Schedule when furnished via telehealth on the CMS website.