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Q&A for Patients

Patient participating in a telehealth meeting

General

KUCTT is a telemedicine and telehealth research center and is particularly interested in trying new telehealth technologies or models, advancing public policy, conducting research and educating other health care professionals about telemedicine. KUCTT provides some telemedicine clinical consultations but usually in the context of a research or education grant or project. KUCTT generally does not initiate telehealth services for long-term clinical care only and often refers to these types of requests to The University of Kansas Health System.

Telemedicine is the delivery of health care by a physician to a patient using interactive video technology when distance separates doctor and patient. Telemedicine is part of telehealth, a term that involves the use of additional technologies, other types of health providers and distance education. Telehealth uses both interactive and asynchronous communication.

Almost any medical, nursing, or allied health service can be provided via telemedicine for follow-up or consultation purposes. A traditional, in-person visit may still be needed for a physical examination or procedure, but telemedicine visits may be used for short follow-up visits. The type of visit needed is determined by the provider in conjunction with the patient. A wide range of specialty services has been provided via telemedicine at KU Medical Center, including cardiology, developmental pediatrics, diet and nutrition, mental health, oncology, pediatrics, and psychiatry.

Some patients are entirely served by telemedicine consultations in collaboration with their provider, most often for mental health services. However, most telemedicine visits occur in combination with occasional in-person visits. It saves patients’ traveling time and cost for their clinical visits, many of which are for short, routine checkups and do not require an in-person discussion.

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) does not consider an interactive video consultation to be protected health information, so it does not govern telemedicine encounters. However, device encryption and a private internet connection are recommended for patient security and privacy. Most telemedicine equipment encrypts the transmission. Other types of telehealth, such as the transmission of patient data or images, are considered protected health information and must be managed according to HIPAA requirements.

No. While Project ECHO uses similar technology and often works closely with telemedicine departments, no patients are present or directly treated during ECHO sessions. Instead, ECHO is an innovative education model that allows primary care providers to receive specialized information so that they can treat complex diseases in their local communities.

Patients

To set-up a telemedicine consult, patients require a referral from their primary care provider, local mental health provider, or their KUMC specialist who would like to utilize telemedicine to see him or her. Typically these referrals would come from the local hospital or clinic that is already engaged in telemedicine services with KUMC. Please contact your local provider or KUCTT to help determine if telemedicine may be available to you.

Because telemedicine is not a separate specialty, just a way of delivering health care, Medicare, Kansas Medicaid, and many private insurance companies will reimburse for covered services delivered over telemedicine. However, reimbursement for services provided via telemedicine is not universal. Some insurance companies do not provide a telemedicine benefit or may only cover selected billing codes. In addition, patients may still be responsible for a co-pay or deductible, the same as a traditional in-person visit.

Patients rarely need to control or manage the technology. Most telemedicine consultations occur in a community hospital or clinic with the assistance of a local nurse or site coordinator. Most often, patients just arrive at the time of their appointments and wait for the video consultation with the doctor or specialist, as described in the next question.

A telemedicine appointment uses technology to create an experience very similar to an in-person visit.

• On the day of the telemedicine appointment, the patient checks in at the remote site and is taken to an exam room equipped with interactive video technology.

• The provider will connect to the appointment with an interactive video conferencing system. As with an in-person appointment, providers often start by asking about the patient's medical history and the specific ailment or getting updated on the patient’s condition since their last appointment.

• During the appointment, a telemedicine site coordinator (typically a registered nurse) will remain in the room to assist the patient and provider.

• The provider will end the appointment the same as an in-person appointment by providing treatment recommendations, requesting a follow-up visit, ordering lab work, or referring to another doctor.

• Telemedicine providers send copies of their notes to the patient's primary care provider if requested.

For some controlled substance medications, your telemedicine provider may need to see you in person once before prescribing medication or may consult with your primary care physician for your medications. Telemedicine providers can send standard prescriptions electronically to your pharmacy or, when required, mail a paper copy of the prescription to your home. Your telemedicine provider can often work with the telemedicine nurse at your site to order lab work at facilities close to you.

Telemedicine & Telehealth

University of Kansas Medical Center
KU Center for Telemedicine & Telehealth
4330 Shawnee Mission Parkway, Suite 1160
Mail Stop 7001
Fairway, KS  66205
Fax: 913-588-2457
Phone: 913-588-2226
telemedicine@kumc.edu