April 15, 2014

In an article recently reported by PR Web, telehealth provider, MeMD, has announced coverage for all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Now, patients can see a doctor virtually, via web cam, from anywhere in the U.S. Telehealth may seem a like a futuristic avenue for medicine, but it is here to stay. Our society has increasingly become an “on demand” society and telehealth fits that model.

According to MeMD’s announcement, “Patient demand and increased utilization of the membership-based telemedicine model drove MeMD to quickly expand its network to include providers with licenses in all 50 states. With over a 93-percent patient satisfaction rate thus far in 2014, MeMD has proven the ability to exponentially grow while still maintaining high levels of patient satisfaction.” MeMD’s Business Development Manager, Lauren Otto, said, “This takes affordability and convenience to the next level for  both healthcare and telemedicine.”

MeMD is a membership-based service. Patients may purchase single-use memberships or monthly packages. They treat common, “low acuity”  ailments such as pink-eye, flu, allergies, sinus symptoms, and bronchitis.  The cost is less than an emergency room visit and is an allowable expense for some Flexible Spending Accounts. Some locations (based on state) have 24/7 service, other states offer extended hours for appointments, 7:00-a.m. through 10:00 p.m.

In spite of all the conveniences, there are limitations to the program.  MeMD providers will not “prescribe Tramadol, Carisoprodol, Fiorcet, Pseudoephedrine, Armodafinil , [or other drugs listed on the DEA Controlled Substance schedule] ‘and/or elective medications or drugs, including medications to treat erectile dysfunction, hair loss, obesity, anxiety or depression.”  Nor does telehealth replace the standard care by a primary physician.

Telehealth Regulations and Government

The U.S. Department of Heath- Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) is one federal agency that works to support telehealth. Specifically, they advocate the use of telehealth as a way to serve rural or otherwise underserved populations. According to their webpage, the “HRSA works to increase and improve the use of telehealth… by:

  • Fostering partnerships within HRSA, and with other Federal agencies, states and private sector groups to create telehealth projects.
  • Administering telehealth grant programs.
  • Providing technical assistance.
  • Evaluating the use of telehealth technologies and programs.
  • Developing telehealth policy initiatives to improve access to quality health services.
  • Promoting knowledge exchange about “best telehealth practices.”

The American Telehealth Association is another resource for up to date information on policy and governance and research on all telehealth related topics.  As the use of telehealth becomes more widespread, their role will be invaluable in helping to sort out all state and federal licensing issues and the adoption of best practices.


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