Minnesota company Clear.md: Startup of the Year Finalist

Clear.md is a web and mobile application that connects patients to healthcare providers through short, one topic, tailored videos called “vidscriptions.”  Almost a year ago, gpTRAC was writing about clear.md in this blog as an example of how innovative technology healthcare companies could help alleviate future physician shortages.  Today, Clear.md is being recognized at the Doctors 2.0 conference in Paris as a finalist for “Startup of the Year.”

From clear.md’s press release:  “A global perspective has defined our strategy since day­one. We are honored to be recognized by Doctors 2.0 in Europe as a US ­company with an international identity, and we look forward to representing the Twin Cities digital health community at the conference in Paris this June,”said John Brownlee, CEO and co­founder of clear.md.”

Congratulations to John Brownlee and the clear.md team!  For more information on clear.md, visit the website at www.clear.md.

Minnesota Medicaid Telemedicine Reimbursement

gpTRAC is launching a Q&A video series with our very own Zoi Hills!
In this episode Zoi discusses two of our most frequently asked questions having to do with Minnesota Medicaid Reimbursement.  Do you have other questions you would like answered by Zoi?  Click comment under this post to let us know, and we will get back to you!

FAQ #1:  What services are payable by Minnesota Medicaid?

Answer:  The Minnesota Medicaid policy covers all telemedicine services delivered by a physician whose opinion or advice has been delivered at the request of another provider.  This includes services using live interactive video and store-and-forward.

FAQ #2:  What is required for reimbursement of telemedicine services by Minnesota Medicaid?

Answer:  There are two main requirements for reimbursement according to Minnesota Medicaid.  They are:

1.  The patient has to be located in an “Eligible Originating Site”  which includes:
-Provider’s office
-Critical Access Hospital
-Skill Nursing Facility
-Federally Qualified Health Center
-Community Mental Health Center
-Renal Dialysis Center

2.    The services have to be provided by an “eligible provider” as defined by Minnesota Medicaid.  For mental health services, all enrollable mental healthcare professionals are considered “eligible providers” for reimbursement.  For non-mental health services, only a specialty physician and oral surgeon are considered “eligible providers” for reimbursement.

Also of note:  Minnesota Medicaid reimbursement for telemedicine services does not differentiate between rural and urban settings, which means the patient can be located at a rural or urban facility.

Click here to link to gpTRAC’s YouTube channel, and check back often for more frequently asked questions about telemedicine in the Great Plains Region!
Telemed Q&A with Zoi Hills on MN Medicaid Reimbursement

Telemedicine featured in Sunday’s Star Tribune

This weekend, telemedicine made it into the Twin Cities’ Star Tribune paper, with a full page spread in the business section titled “Tele-medicine taking off”.  The article, written by Jackie Crosby, highlights local physician Dr. Greg Smith, his confidence in the future of telemedicine services, and the online care service Consult A Doctor, where he serves as the chief medical officer.  Consult A Doctor, which is one of a growing number of online consultation platforms, operates solely through telecommunication technologies (phone, email, videoconference), allowing patients to connect with providers 24 hours a day to resolve basic health complaints.  According to the article, Consult A Doctor has performed over 200,000 consultations in the past six years, and is being increasingly adopted by employers and travel insurance agencies.  The article also highlights several other Minnesota based online consultation services including Virtuwell (provided by HealthPartners), and American Well (provided by BCBS Minnesota, UnitedHealth Group, Medtronic).

To read the full article, “Tele-medicine taking off”, click here.

Telemedicine Bill Being Drafted in Washington

In a story published earlier this month on the Government Health IT site, it was announced that Sen. Tom Udall (New Mexico) plans to propose a bill this spring to streamline licensure for physicians practicing telemedicine. The bill, which would allow physicians to connect to patients in multiple states without needing to apply for separate licenses, has the potential to reduce barriers for patients seeking telemedicine services, and widen the reach of practicing physicians. The Federation of State Medical Boards, which has raised concerns with the proposed changes, is in conversation with Senator Udall to modify the bill.

Locally, a bill recently proposed in Minnesota by DFL Representative Kim Norton (Rochester, MN) aims to allow similar flexibility in licensure for Minnesota nurses practicing telemedicine in other states by allowing their participation in the Nursing License Compact.

As Information Technology networks grow and strengthen, so do the possibilities for telemedicine services. These bills could be an important step in recognizing those possibilities, a change that would benefit patients and providers alike.

To read the full article and find more information on Senator Udall’s bill, click here.

Food, Fun and Dermatology Screenings

More than 240 attendees at this year’s Minnesota State Fair received free dermatology screenings thanks to the Great Plains Telehealth Resource and Assistance Center (gpTRAC) and the University of Minnesota.  The telehealth awareness booth was designed to educate fairgoers about telemedicine services while calling attention to the dangers of skin cancer and the importance of regular dermatology screenings to monitor for warning signs of the disease.

Nearly 20 percent of fairgoers screened were advised to seek further evaluation for skin cancer.  Seventeen were suspected of skin cancer and twenty-seven for suspected pre-cancer skin conditions.

“Many of these fairgoers hadn’t made it a priority to get screened for skin cancer until they came upon our booth.  I think this demonstrates that telehealth services can help increase access to specialty care, like dermatological screenings, to ultimately help reduce overall healthcare costs through earlier diagnosis, management and treatment of disease,” said Stuart Speedie, Ph.D., Principal Investigator and Director of gpTRAC.  “Clearly, we accomplished something very positive at the State Fair and hopefully helped prevent the advancement of a dangerous disease in several Minnesotans.”

Telehealth offers increased healthcare service delivery to medically-underserved communities by connecting patients to specialists via technology.  More convenient access to care minimizes patient travel time, reduces out-of-pocket costs and increases the likelihood that patients obtain care when they need it.

During a telemedicine consultation, which can be conducted in a growing number of clinics across the state, a patient is connected to a specialist who is in a separate location via video. A nurse is often on hand with the patient to conduct physical exam tasks as requested by the specialist. Cameras and other monitoring tools allow the specialist to see on screen exactly what the nurse is seeing in person. In addition to skin cancer screenings, telehealth can be used for mental health evaluations, orthopedic consults, management of chronic diseases and a wide range of other medical services.

“This event wouldn’t have been possible without the generous support of dermatologists at the University of Minnesota who volunteered 140 hours of time to conduct free screenings during the fair.  With their help raising awareness of telehealth, we hope that access to telehealth services will continue to grow across the state of Minnesota,” added Speedie.

The gpTRAC is one of eleven federally designated telehealth resource centers in the nation supported by a grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA).  Serving Minnesota, Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska and Wisconsin, the gpTRAC strives to promote health care services that take advantage of modern telecommunications technologies.  For more information, visit accesstelehealth.org or gptrac.org.

Click here to see a video of the state fair telehealth visits.

School-based Telehealth in Minnesota!

Providing telehealth services in our schools is something that is often talked about as a great opportunity.  However, not too many programs have actually been implemented, especially in our region.  Here is one that is on the verge!  It will be exciting to learn from the folks in Winona about this service option.  We’ll be keeping an eye on this project!