Lancaster Physician Fall 2017 - 28

L A N C A S T E R M E D I C A L S O C I E T Y.O R G

Perspectives

a TeleBurn program in conjunction with
Lehigh Valley Medical Center.
"Those are what we currently have in
place, and they've grown significantly over
the past year," Turkel said. "We now are in
the planning phases for other programs."
Dr. David Someman, a hypertension
and kidney specialist who practices at
Lancaster-based Hypertension and Kidney
Specialists, said that telemedicine has an
important role in treating kidney patients.
"In our practice, a physical exam can
be important, but mostly we're managing
chronic conditions and often, a conversation with a patient is the thing we need
most," Somerman said.
All patients must be seen personally
when entering the practice, but after
they've been examined and diagnosed and
doctors have established a relationship with
them, telemedicine often is advantageous.
"It eliminates the need for a patient to
drive to the office or take time off from
work," Somerman said. "In our practice, we
strategically use it for patients who have been
diagnosed and are undergoing treatment."
Another advantage, according to Somerman, is that telemedicine can be used to
connect family members, patients, and physicians, enabling everyone to ask questions
and understand their loved one's condition.
It also can be used to give doctors a
window into their patients' homes in order
to better understand the circumstances in
which they live.
"I want to know if my patient's home is
safe, and if there are other people around,"
Somerman said. "Technology can absolutely
help physicians with patient engagement."

TELEMEDICINE
- PAMED'S
PERSPECTIVE
With a growing number of
services being provided via telemedicine technologies, there is a
need for a set of safeguards and
standards to support the appropriate coverage of and payment for
telemedicine services. Geography,
weather, availability of specialists,
transportation, and other factors
can create barriers to accessing
appropriate health care, including
behavioral health care. One way
to provide, ensure, or enhance
access to care given these barriers
is through the appropriate use of
technology to allow health care
consumers access to qualified
health care providers.
 If properly regulated, telemedicine has the potential to improve
patient access to care.
LEGISLATION: 
PAMED will support legislation
that maintains the physicianpatient relationship and enables
telemedicine services to be reimbursed the same as in-person
patient encounters. 
CURRENT STATUS: 
SB 780 was introduced on June
22, 2017, and is now in the
Senate Banking and Insurance
Committee.

Telemedicine is profoundly important,
explained DiCamillo, because it has the
potential to provide specialized health care
to patients regardless of their location.

LANCASTER

28

PHYSICIAN

Telemedicine could be used to provide
specialized medical advice from a remote
location to medics working in a disaster
relief situation, or expert care to someone
in a rural location who does not have access
to good health care.
"I look at it as population health,"
DiCamillo said. "We just want patients
seen at the right place, at the right time
and for the least cost to the patient. If
telemedicine works best for that, let's get
it into place."
Turkel agreed, saying telemedicine can
make medicine more convenient and cost
effective, especially in areas where there
are shortages of specialists.
While the Lancaster area is home to a
variety of talented specialists, there could
at some point be a need for a doctor who is
not positioned nearby. For instance, Turkel
said, with the spread of the Zika virus, it is
plausible that a Lancaster County resident
may travel to an area affected by Zika,
contract it, and return home.
"In a case like that, our physician community may very well have a real need to seek
out the services of someone who specializes
in tropical diseases," Turkel said. "That could
easily be done through telemedicine."
While everyone agreed that telemedicine has a promising future, there are
some stumbling blocks in the way of
widespread use.
Not surprisingly, many insurances place
restrictions on what types of telemedicine
they will cover or what types of patients
qualify for telemedicine coverage.
While Lancaster General is working
to transition to real-time telemedicine,
a scenario in which patients and doctors
interact in real time, similar to using Skype
or Facetime, insurers will only cover realtime telemedicine for patients who live
in rural areas without access to personal
visits, DiCamillo explained.



Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Lancaster Physician Fall 2017

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