I wish I were tele-pathic


I have telehealth on the brain this week (I know, it's early in the week to have something on your brain, but...)

Our publisher, Rick Rector, is at the American Telemedicine Association conference in Florida as we speak.

And CMS announced today that it has finalized a rule for telemedicine services to ensure that patients in rural or remote areas will continue to receive the most cutting-edge medical care from many of their local hospitals. In a nutshell, the rule simplifies how hospitals and critical access hospitals partner with "telemedicine entities" to deliver care to patients.

We've written about telehealth some in HME News lately. We've written about Rotech providing telehealth services to members of national health plans.

We've also written about a few, much-smaller providers adding telehealth services to their mix of products and services. Barry Berger has a "smart store" stocked with all the latest gadgets in patient safety and telehealth, and he also offers a subscription monitoring service. Doug Cruitt has established disease state management programs that include remote monitoring for patients with diabetes and COPD.

Overall, though, our coverage of telehealth has been sporadic, largely because the HME provider's role, on a larger scale, is unknown. So is the reimbursement for these products and services, but what reimbursement isn't uncertain these days?

Still, I can't seem to shake the idea that HME providers would be excellent candidates to drive telehealth into more homes. They're already there, providing products and services for people with chronic conditions, like oxygen concentrators for those with COPD and CPAP devices for those with OSA.

Why wouldn't physicians want HME providers to complete the circle, in essence being their eyes and ears when their patients aren't in their offices or their hospitals?

It'd be nice if it would be, but I doubt this question will be answered anytime soon.

I guess I'll just have to get used to having  telehealth on the brain.

Liz Beaulieu