We interviewed Dr. Steve Rad, MD FACOG to explore the future of telemedicine, the role of medical imaging in telehealth and how to easily code for the reimbursement of your telehealth services with Tricefy.
Dr. Steve Rad MD, FACOG is a specialist expert in Obstetrics, Gynecology, Maternal-Fetal Medicine and High-Risk Pregnancies. Dr. Rad has received numerous top doctor awards including Los Angeles Magazine and Super Doctors Rising Stars 2018, 2019 and 2020.
Dr. Rad owns a private, concierge-style practice in Los Angeles. His practice is committed to excellence, personalized care and best pregnancy outcomes. Dr. Rad has been using Tricefy since 2016 and uses all of the product capabilities.
Telemedicine, a concept that’s been around since the 1950’s, has recently reclaimed center stage as one of the hottest topics among healthcare providers worldwide.
Not only has COVID-19 made us pay attention to the need for remote, digital healthcare solutions, many of the traditional legal and regulatory barriers to telemedicine have been lifted. The relaxed guidelines around telehealth and telemedicine, particularly regarding reimbursements, have allowed once-hesitant healthcare providers to more safely dip their toes into the telemedicine pond.
While it remains to be seen what the long-term effects will be on the future, one thing the experts can agree upon is that telehealth is here to stay. As staggering numbers of patients and providers have been catapulted into the realities of virtual healthcare, expectations and norms on both sides are forever altered.
While the healthcare community has always been vaguely aware of telemedicine and its potential, it’s real- world impact is being felt in a way I don’t believe any of us have seen yet.” Says Åsa Nordgren, CEO of Trice Imaging “The ability to electronically consult with specialty care providers has staggering impacts on productivity, cost, timeliness of care and patient access to care. Telemedicine can also significantly drive the democratization of healthcare and improve quality of care regardless of who and where patients are.”
In addition to demand, the acceleration of telehealth is also being fueled by rapid, sweeping relaxations to regulatory and billing requirements that have notoriously created barriers to adoption.
In the US, as in many countries around the globe, the COVID-19 pandemic caused regulatory bodies to issue immediate revisions to their guidelines and requirements for what qualifies as telehealth and telemedicine, particularly around what is reimbursable. It remains to be seen what long-term effects these changes will have on the future of telemedicine in healthcare, but one thing the experts agree upon is that it’s here to stay.
From a clinical services perspective, telemedicine can be broken down into four basic modalities. You can find those definitions in this recent whitepaper by the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine (SMFM).
Tricefy is a cloud-based medical imaging solution that enables providers to securely share, access, store, collaborate and report on medical imaging studies. As such, it has applications in multiple modalities, but the store-and-forward scenario is perhaps the most relevant:
- Store-and-forward, (aka “asynchronous”) consultation – information (e.g. ultrasound recordings, reports, test results, etc.) is captured from the patient at one time and location, and evaluated by a provider at another time and location
A large category in this modality is something called “eConsult services.” mHealth intelligence did a great job of defining eConsults in a recent article:
“eConsult services are most often conducted on an asynchronous, or store-and-forward, telemedicine platform, enabling both the primary care provider and the specialist to work at their own pace within a specified time period.
For primary care providers and specialists connecting through a typical store-and-forward platform, the process of consulting on a case is relatively straightforward:
- Through an online portal, the PCP (Primary Care Physician) will present the patient case along with any necessary data, such as images or test results.
- The specialist gets an alert (such as a text message) that an eConsult is available in the portal. He or she reviews the case and makes a diagnosis, consulting other decision support resources if necessary. That diagnosis is then sent back to the PCP.
- In cases where the specialist has answered the PCP’s concerns, the PCP can then treat the patient more confidently and effectively – eliminating the need for an appointment with the specialist.
In cases where a diagnosis can’t be rendered online, the PCP then makes an appointment for the patient to be seen by a specialist in person. The eConsult lays the groundwork for that office visit, giving the specialist access to all the information he/she needs prior to the meeting.”
Due to COVID-19 lockdowns, more and more healthcare professionals are needing to adapt to the realities of providing care from remote locations, such as the home.
To protect the safety of providers, patients and family members, Maternal Fetal Medicine and other practitioners are faced with having to find meaningful ways to have an increasing number of their consultations conducted virtually. Hear Dr. Rad [watch videos with Dr. Rad here] discuss those challenges and how he tackles them at Cedars-Sinai in Los Angeles.
Dr. Rad, a longtime telemedicine provider, uses Tricefy to upload all of his practice’s non-imaging patient documents, such as intake forms, lab results, insurance documents and other records as PDFs, in order to keep all of the patient information centralized and accessible.
Tricefy is a secure, cloud based medical imaging solution. It allows providers to safely and quickly store, share, collaborate, report and route their imaging studies at any time, from any location.
“You can make your own templates for everything. I made my own custom billing templates with all the ICD-10 and CPT codes easily plugged in, so I’m even able to do my billing from Tricefy.” Learn more about how to bill and code using Tricefy here : https://vimeo.com/430525837#t=284s “Having all of our patient documentation centralized in Tricefy is key. Everything is in the cloud, and it’s easy to access from any device, like my iPhone or iPad, from anywhere.”
How can Tricefy support the users need for effective telemedicine solutions?
The clinical collaboration workflow can be used for interacting not only with other providers and specialists. It can also be used to interact with patients and hence enabling other aspects of store-and-forward Telemedicine. Tricefy can also be used in conjunction with other telemedicine platforms geared towards online-patient visits either by the patients sharing their images with the virtual doctor or the doctor having access and sharing the images during the virtual visit through online screenshare.
What does the future hold for telemedicine in Imaging in general and with Tricefy specifically?
With the fast acceptance and adoption rate of telemedicine both by providers and patients, we are now witnessing the number of platform providers grow even further. But how many different services, platforms, apps and IT solutions does a provider really want to manage? We are likely to see integrations of platforms and specialized platforms e.g. imaging and surveillance systems will have video conferencing and secure messaging, live, two-way or real-time synchronous audio, video and Hybrid consultation.
To see all interviews with Dr. Steve Rad click here: https://triceimaging.com/covid-19#impact
- Webinar: Telemedicine and Coding Tips in the Era of COVID – hosted by The Society for Maternal Fetal Medicine, featuring Drs. Vanita Jain and Sina Haeri
- SMFM Coding White Paper: Interim Coding Guidance: Coding for Telemedicine and Remote Patient Monitoring Services during the COVID-19 Pandemic
- How eConsults Can Offer a Virtual Care Connection to Specialists – mhealthintelligence, January 2019
- Infographic: What is eConsult? (Source: Public Health Institute)