For Walkitria Smith MD, chief digital medical officer at the Morehouse School of Medicine, telemedicine services have initiated the process of evening health outcomes across populations. The Morehouse School of Medicine launched its telemedicine program in 2018 with the goal of reaching rural communities using remote patient monitoring.
Smith said telemedicine can help erase barriers to health care such as transportation, poverty and education, what are known as the “social determinants of health care.”
“We still have a long way to go in regards to people of color and those most affected by social determinants, but it has begun to address one of the huge social determinants of health care and equity,” Smith said.
Another way that telemedicine has expanded is through the introduction of virtual second opinions by major medical institutions such as The Cleveland Clinic, MD Anderson, and The Mayo Clinic, among others.
In the spring of 2021, Dan Walden noticed that his heart was beating at a strange rhythm. Walden, 61, of Covington would soon discover he has light chain amyloidosis, a rare bone marrow disease that occurs in 1 in 10 million people. Without treatment, patients live for 9 to 12 months.
His local doctor performed tests on him but was unable to confirm his condition to start treatment. Then, Walden received a virtual second opinion from The Clinic at the Cleveland Clinic and was able to begin chemotherapy after the virtual visit.
“I had my doubts about virtual medicine, but, in this case, they were able to examine the work that had already been done by the practitioners who had got their hands on me,” he said. “They merged all the important information into one diagnosis.”
Along with the benefits of telemedicine, there are concerns about the rise in healthcare fraud.
“During the pandemic, we saw multiple COVID-related fraud schemes that included using fake test sites, using telemarketing calls, social media, etc. To offer COVID-19 services in exchange for personal information.” , said Tamala Miles, special agent in charge of the HHS Atlanta Regional Investigation Bureau within the Inspector General’s Office.
In July, the Justice Department accused 36 defendants across the country of committing a number of alleged health fraud schemes, including $ 1 billion in telemedicine schemes. Some of the accused defendants allegedly controlled a telemarketing network, based both domestically and overseas, which attracted thousands of elderly or disabled patients into a criminal scheme.
“During COVID, our oversight has never been more important. We have not missed a beat in addressing the ongoing public health emergency. We cannot and do not want to stop what we are doing, ”she said. “While the expansion of telemedicine has been crucial in maintaining patients’ access to care, it is important that new policies and technologies with the potential to improve care and improve access achieve these goals and are not compromised by fraud. , abuse and misuse “.
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