How will Telemedicine Impact Healthcare?


By Debbie Gregory.

These days, more and more people are working from home, shopping from home, and even seeing the doctor from home. Telemedicine, the use of telecommunication and information technology to deliver clinical healthcare from a distance, is changing healthcare as we know it.

Telemedicine allows health care professionals to evaluate, diagnose and treat patients at a distance using technology. The approach has seen tremendous growth in the last decade, and it is becoming an increasingly important part of the healthcare infrastructure.

Doctors are linking up with patients by phone, email and computer webcams. Physicians and allied healthcare professionals are also consulting with each other electronically.

Telemedicine is a key component of medical care on the International Space Station. Today’s long-duration and exploration missions require space medicine to fulfill a much wider-ranging mandate and extend beyond minor illness and urgent care.

Additionally, patients are using new devices to relay their vital signs to their doctors so they can manage chronic conditions at home. This is especially valuable to patients in isolated communities and remote regions; telemedicine can offer care from doctors or specialists far away, without requiring the patient to travel for medical services.

Additional benefits include: less time away from work; no travel expenses or time; less interference with child or elder care responsibilities; privacy; and an avoidance of exposure to other potentially contagious patients.

Hospitals, enabled by telemedicine, will increasingly serve as command posts for care. Through continued advancements, the telemedicine industry will grow exponentially, revolutionizing healthcare as we know it today.

The fastest-growing services in telemedicine connect patients with clinicians they’ve never met for one-time phone, video or email visits—on-demand, 24/7. Typically, these are for nonemergency issues such as colds and the flu, earaches, skin rashes, etc.

But critics are concerned that such services may be sacrificing quality for convenience. Minor issues such as upper respiratory infections can’t really be evaluated by a doctor who can’t listen to your heart, culture your throat or feel your swollen glands.

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.


Easier Medical Care Access for Mil Families Expected

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By Debbie Gregory.

Thanks to changes in the annual defense department bill, passed by both the House and Senate, military families will have easier access to urgent care and primary care.

Awaiting President Obama’s signature before becoming law, the bill ensures out-of-pocket costs won’t change for most Tricare users who are already enrolled in the system.

Unfortunately for future service members and their families, plans call for fees and co-payments to be collected from those entering service and/or enrolling in health plans beginning in 2018. Retirees and family members now enrolled in Tricare Standard will have to pay an annual enrollment fee of $150 for singles and $300 for families starting in 2020.

Among the improvements are urgent care referrals will no longer be required, allowing greater access to care.

Some military medical treatment facilities will keep urgent care services open until 11 p.m. daily. Defense department officials would determine the locations where these extra hours would be needed, and they’d have 365 days from the bill’s signing to get the plan in place.

Hours at primary care clinic military medical treatment facilities (MTF) would also expand, if needed. Again, the Defense Department would determine the appropriate hours for primary care clinics at MTFs based on the ability to meet access standards and patients’ patterns of using primary care. This would be implemented within six months after the bill is signed into law.

The legislation would retire the Tricare Standard and Tricare Extra programs as of the end of next year. The new program, Tricare Select, would take effect January, 2018. Current Standard/Extra users would enroll in either the new Select program or Tricare Prime.

Tricare Select will come with higher out-of-pocket costs for beneficiaries of anyone entering service after Jan. 1, 2018.

Tricare Prime will remain free for all active-duty families — no enrollment fees, deductibles or out-of-pocket co-payments.

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.