Transferring patients between hospitals is a common occurrence at community hospitals and tertiary care facilities. Although not enough is known about the burden this puts on our healthcare system, it has been estimated that 1.6 million inpatients originated at another facility,1 including 1.5% of all admitted Medicare patients.2 Despite the high volume of patient transfers, there is no structured way to ensure that the patients medical records arrive along with them to the receiving institution. This has posed significant, and even life threatening outcomes, but is there a solution?
It’s no surprise that the current global pandemic has accelerated telehealth’s adoption. More and more patients are looking to manage their care remotely and early indications point to the increased use of telehealth services being here to stay even after economies reopen. That said, you might find yourself asking, “which telehealth services should my organization be offering?”
It’s a fair question considering the various options that exist in the market but we hope to be able to provide some guidance below.
Most of the attention that telehealth has garnered over the past year has focused on using remote technology for synchronous virtual patient visits. During portions of 2020, these visits represented as much as 70% of all patient encounters.
In the US, regulation of the practice medicine is a state prerogative. Based upon one of the earliest precepts of the establishment of the federal government in the United States, states retain the power to regulate that which occurs solely within their borders. Physicians must be licensed in the state in which they practice and must adhere to that state's mandates. So, can a physician legally serve a patient in need of their specialty if they reside outside of their jurisdiction?
Here’s a familiar story. A new patient sets up an appointment to see a specialist. She has been dealing with her current health issues for years and has built up a shoe box full of prior records. The specialist, however, has no way to capture these prior records and is forced into one of the following options:
- Have the patient bring the records with her to her appointment
- Have the patient ship the records through the mail
- Have the patient email whatever records they can to the practice
- Disregard the prior records and start from scratch