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  • Patient Support for Home-Based Telemedicine Growing but Barriers Remain

    More patients are willing than not to consider staying at home for video-based appointments with a health care provider, but the consumer demand for such an option still has a way to go before it could be characterized as overwhelming, according to a new study from the Mayo Clinic.

    In a survey of 263 patients who recently received outpatient treatment at the Mayo Clinic Center, researchers found that about 66% of respondents said that they were "somewhat likely" (28.1%) or "very likely" (38%) to accept an invitation to meet with their provider by way of video from their homes. The survey included questions about familiarity with video calls, what kinds of technology patients owned, patient assessments of the value of video appointments, and costs of travel to the local institution, among other topics. Findings were published in the September issue of Telemedicine and e-HEALTH.

    Not unexpectedly, researchers found a high correlation between a patient's willingness to consider a home-based video appointment and that patient's experience with video calls and the technology involved. Other drivers included age and distance from home to the health care institution—generally the younger and farther away, the more likely the patient was to consider a video appointment. Actual prevalence of the technology was less of an issue, with 75% of respondents reporting that they had a broadband Internet connection—although only 36% had a web camera.

    The real problem, according to authors of the research, is that patients opposed to video appointments are unlikely to change their minds without some significant work on the part of health care providers and others—and that work may have to focus on issues beyond the technology itself. "Of the 4 primary concerns to address," authors write, "3 of the 4 express concern not about logistics of the connection, privacy, or security of the medium … but about the general preferences of face-to-face over video communication. To shift perceptions about the medium may require deploying a focused communication strategy … encouraging the use of the system on a trial basis, or simply allowing technology use behavior to catch up with what technology enables."

    The study describes overall patient demand for video appointments as "nascent," and asserts that growth will be highly dependent on sensitivity to multiple patient factors—something that Matt Elrod, PT, DPT, MEd, NCS, senior practice specialist at APTA believes is crucial to telemedicine's success. "The technology behind telehealth is exciting and presents many opportunities for patients and providers," he said, "but the true benefits of telehealth are realized when it is used for the right patient at the right time and incorporates the patient's, wants, needs, and preferences."

    More resources on telehealth and physical therapy practice can be found at APTA's Telehealth webpage.

    2015 Medicare Changes: Are You Ready?

    It's no surprise that Medicare has changes in store for 2015 payment policies. But the changes themselves could be surprising if you're not prepared.

    Physical therapists (PTs) in home health, rehabilitation, and skilled nursing facilities can get up to speed on the changes, many of which directly affect physical therapy in postacute care settings, by signing up for a 90-minute APTA webinar on what Medicare has in store for 2015. The program is set for October 16 beginning at 2:00 pm ET, and will cover new Medicare definitions, changes to how therapy minutes are recorded, changes to postacute care quality reporting, and more.

    Participants in the live event will be able to pose questions to the presenters, and will also receive a preview of the upcoming 2014 APTA Postacute Care Compliance Seminar. Cost for the webinar is $99 for APTA members and $169 for nonmembers, which includes on-demand access to the webinar for later viewing. The session will provide 0.2 CEUs (2.0 contact hours/CCUs).

    More information and registration instructions are available at the APTA Learning Center.

    APTA Grassroots 'Flash Action' Campaign Delivers Message on Concussion

    In the largest grassroots effort on concussions in APTA history, members, students, and patients sent a loud-and-clear message to members of Congress: greater attention needs to be paid to youth sports concussion, and physical therapists (PTs) and physical therapist assistants (PTAs) can play an important role in managing these injuries.

    The concussion message was the focus of this year's Flash Action Strategy FAS), a student-led advocacy campaign that took place September 8-10. In the span of 72 hours, FAS participants sent letters to every member of Congress through APTA's Legislative Action Center (LAC) and Patient Action Center (PAC) asking them to support the Protecting Student Athletes from Concussions Act (H.R. 3532) and the Supporting Athletes, Families, and Educators to Protect the Lives of Athletic Youth Act (SAFE PLAY Act) (S. 2718/H.R. 5324). Organizers estimate that the FAS required about a minute of a participant's time.

    Although the official FAS wrapped up on September 10, members and others interested in delivering messages to legislators can still get in the game by contacting legislators through the LAC and PAC.

    "Once again the partnership between APTA and the APTA Student Assembly Board of Directors set the stage for a great advocacy effort," said Justin Moore, DPT, vice president, public policy, practice, and professional affairs at APTA. "We are grateful to all of the members, patients, and others who spoke out on this important issue. We've moved the ball down the field on concussion awareness."

    Interested in getting involved in APTA’s advocacy efforts throughout the year? Join the PTeam online or on the APTA Action App. You can also support the PT-PAC by contributing to the $20 campaign.