CVS Health Rolls Out Telehealth to MN (and other states)

CVSHealth reports

CVS Health (NYSE: CVS) today announced that MinuteClinic, the company’s retail medical clinic, has rolled out its virtual visit offering in eight additional states. People with minor illnesses and injuries, skin conditions and other wellness needs can now seek care through MinuteClinic Video Visits, a telehealth offering, in the states of Arkansas, Connecticut, Hawaii, Indiana, Minnesota, Missouri, Oklahoma and Texas. MinuteClinic Video Visits provide patients with access to care 24 hours a day, seven days a week from their mobile device or computer.

Here’s how it works…

Working collaboratively with Teladoc (NYSE: TDOC), the global leader in virtual care, and leveraging Teladoc’s technology platform, patients can receive care via a MinuteClinic Video Visit, initiated through their computer or mobile device, including through the CVS Pharmacy app. Patients who opt to seek care through a fully customized MinuteClinic Video Visit experience the same high-quality, evidence-based care they receive at traditional MinuteClinic locations inside select CVS Pharmacy and Target stores.

Video visits can be used to provide care for patients ages two years and older who are seeking treatment for a minor illness, minor injury, or a skin condition. Each patient will complete a health questionnaire and be matched to a board-certified health care provider licensed in their state, who will review the completed questionnaire with the patient’s medical history, and proceed with the video-enabled visit.

During a MinuteClinic Video Visit, the provider will assess the patient’s condition and determine the appropriate course of treatment following evidence-based clinical care guidelines. For patients who require a prescription as part of their treatment plan, the provider will submit the prescription to the patient’s preferred pharmacy. If it is determined the patient should be seen in person for follow-up care or testing, the provider will recommend that the patient visit a health care provider in their community, such as their primary care provider or a nearby MinuteClinic location.

A MinuteClinic Video Visit costs $59, which is currently payable by credit, debit, FSA and HSA cards. Insurance coverage will be added to the experience in the coming months.


Telemedicine is only as strong as the available broadband

Duluth was host to Minnesota Rural Health Conference last week. The Duluth News Tribune wrote about the event. The meeting was attended by many elected officials…

Monday’s public health forum included Hargan and Stephen Censky, a deputy secretary in the U.S. Department of Agriculture. In a second panel, state Rep. Jennifer Schultz, DFL-Duluth, was seated next to state Rep. Nick Zerwas, R-Elk River, along with Lindsay McLaughlin, health care and aging specialist in U.S. Sen. Tina Smith’s office. Schultz mentioned at one point that things might improve in 2020, and she and McLaughlin were more prone than the rest to talk of funding needs. But it was a largely bipartisan affair, with Zerwas and Schultz often nodding in agreement with each other.

Interesting to see that broadband took such a prominent part of the article and presumably the conference…

On another of many topics, Censky said the telemedicine that makes it possible to connect medical specialists with patients in remote places is only as strong as the available broadband network.

“One of the things that we are working on very hard is to close that digital divide that exists between the 53 million Americans who are living in areas without access to broadband,” said Censky, who grew up on a farm near Jackson, Minn.

“Much like we saw in the 1930s, where rural electrification was simply transformative for all of rural America, we also think that broadband and having access to broadband can be transformative for … rural residents (today) as well.”

Sanford-TytoCare and Best Buy partner to bring more telehealth service to the home

Home Healthcare News reports…

TytoCare — which recently announced a retail relationship with Best Buy (NYSE: BBY) and also has multiple health system partnerships across the country — is just one example of telehealth’s steady evolution.

With its U.S. operations based in New York, TytoCare is the maker of an FDA-cleared telehealth device capable of carrying out a long list of medical tests in the home setting, including comprehensive heart and lung evaluations, as well as ears and throat checkups.

Through the company’s software platform, that biometric data can then be sent to the company’s health care provider partners, whose physicians can subsequently diagnose and even treat patients’ conditions remotely.

Here’s what it means to the consumer…

TytoCare’s consumer-focused telehealth product — TytoHome — is available to Best Buy shoppers for roughly $300, with virtual visits conducted by American Well’s LiveHealth Online costing less than $60 each.

But more than 50 health care organizations have teamed up with TytoCare by using its enterprise-focused offerings, branded as TytoPro and TytoClinic.

And the health care facilities…

The Sanford Health system includes 44 medical centers, 482 clinics, more than 200 senior living facilities, providing health care services across parts of North Dakota, South Dakota and Minnesota. Its flagship home health division — Sanford Home Health — provides services in and around the Sioux Falls area, in addition to Luverne, Minnesota.

“With the exam capabilities this device has, I could see potential use cases being follow-up on post-surgical patients or chronic disease management,” Crabtree said. “I think that could fit with our home care population.”


Technology makes it easier for seniors to stay at home in Northeastern Minnesota

Thanks so much to Don Brunette from Access North Center for Independent Living of Northeastern Minnesota for collecting stories from two clients who have used technology (Echo Show) to make their lives easier…

G.G. is in her 90’s and her vision is fast failing. She was having a tough time even being able to use the phone. Her family found a phone with very large numbers, yet G.G. still had a tough time using it.  I set up Echo Show and with this device G.G. no  longer even needs to use the phone. She can just ask Alexa to call a person and the Show will do that for her.  I think this feature is one of G.G.’s favorite features–her smile was HUGE!

We added an Echo Spot now that lives in the Metro area in her family’s home. They are close however, do not get to see each other very often.  Now, with the 2 devices G.G. can just ask Alexa to drop in on (family) or (family) can drop in on her. We also set up G.G with the Philips Hue lighting for her living room and TV room.  This can be very helpful; G.G just asks Alexa to turn on requested light. She doesn’t need to get up to turn on anything and/or the lights can come on; also lights can be on before she even enters the room so that G.G does not walk into anything or trip.

We also set up the Alexa Fire for her TV. Now G.G can ask Alexa to turn on and off her TV, change channels and change volume as needed. No more multiple remotes with tape over some of the buttons so G.G. couldn’t hit the wrong button and switch the source instead of changing the channel. When that used to happen, a family member would need to go over and get the TV back to the correct source for watching TV.

Now we’re waiting for installation of Nest Thermostat and also Ring doorbell.  These devices will add extra security and safety to consumer home for her.

L.S. wanted some smarthome technology for leisure as well as to stay connected to family. We installed the Echo Show into her home. Now L.S. can listen to her music. She loves asking Show for some jokes and she loves getting the news rundown every morning.  She also enjoys being able to ask Show for the weather report and recipes.  L.S. even asked Show for some ideas to help her granddaughter with a school report. L.S is very close with her adult granddaughter now in Duluth for college. We equipped the granddaughter with the Spot so that the two can drop in on each other any time they like!

We also set up the Philips Hue so that L.S can turn the lights on and off without getting up. L.S is also going to be getting a Ring doorbell installed by Access North staff very soon.  L.S is very excited for this as living alone she cannot wait to be able to see who is at the door before she gets up to go and answer or yell – come in.

Telehealth helps better serve rural Veterans

The US Department for Veteran Affairs reports…

Approximately a quarter of all Veterans in the United States live in rural areas. Air Force Veteran Bill Nelson is one of them. As the survivor of three heart attacks, he’s a big fan of one particular VA office and their telehealth program.

The job of VA’s Office of Rural Health (ORH) is to increase access to care for the nearly three million Veterans living in rural communities who rely on VA for health care. As VA’s lead advocate for rural Veterans, ORH works to see that America’s Veterans thrive in rural communities.

Nelson benefits from ORH’s remote home-based delivery of cardiac rehabilitation which uses telehealth to eliminate the need for rural Veterans to travel multiple times a week to a rehabilitation facility. It lets Veterans tailor the location and schedule of their rehab session from their home.

Nelson lives in Maple Grove, which may not be the most rural town I mention this week, but it would be a long drive to the VA hospital in the Cities. It would easily save him an hour drive each remote visit…

In addition to his exposure to Agent Orange in Vietnam, he had a separated shoulder surgically repaired in Okinawa. He is 100 percent disabled due to his service-connected injuries.

Nelson suffered his first heart attack in 1999 which required having stents implanted. He joined VA for healthcare after retirement in 2014. His second heart attack occurred in 2008 which required having more stints implanted. His had his third heart attack in 2018 and had even more stints implanted.

Today, ORH enables Veteran patients like Nelson to first meet in-person with a specialist to safely learn rehabilitation exercises, with subsequent sessions conducted at home.

Regularly scheduled phone calls with the rehabilitation specialist are used to review risk factors, such as smoking cessation and proper nutrition. Other discussions include exercise, medication adherence, and stress management


BestBuy sells device to help telehealth patients have better remote exams

I find this amazing and obvious at the same time. Health Leaders Media reports…

The physical divide between telehealth providers and consumers has now been compressed thanks to TytoHome, a handheld device that enables patients to conduct remote exams from their home and transmit the data through a smartphone.

Manufactured by Tyto Care, the digital kit is now available through, as well as from participating health systems, including Ochsner Health System, based in New Orleans, and Sanford Health, headquartered in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Most kits purchased directly through Best Buy will connect consumers to physicians at LiveHealth Online, setting up a national caller base for the telehealth provider.

The TytoHome portable examination device features a touch screen that guides patients through the exam process and has attachments that capture digital heart and lung sounds; body temperature; and images of the skin, ears, and throat. The data can be used during live video encounters with physicians or stored on a mobile app and forwarded for review by a clinician at a later time. An online video demonstrates how the product can be used.

The platform also allows for simple integration with electronic health records, third party exam tools, and other telehealth platforms.

I think this could open a door to folks who don’t like going to the doctor. It will make life easier for parents who can use it to report on their kids. For folks in remote areas this means you can have a more meaningful remote visit and not miss a day of work.

Telehealth use doubles between 2016 and 2017

According to Multi-Briefs Exclusive

Telehealth use rose by more than 50% from 2016 to 2017, according to a new white paper by Fair Health. For the annually released paper, data was collected from the company’s records of 28 billion commercial insurance claims, which showed that telehealth utilization grew nearly twice as fast in urban areas vs. rural over that span.

Nationally, urgent-care centers increased their use of telehealth by at least 14%, followed by retail clinics at 7% and ambulatory surgery centers at 6%. Emergency department utilization of telehealth declined, though, by 2%. However, utilization in this setting was still the most used.

Also on the upswing was utilization by private insurance claims for telehealth services, increasing more than 1,200% from 2012 to 2017. Likewise, the use of telehealth is outpacing all other sites of care, the report says.

In 2017, most people used telehealth for injuries like bruises and open wounds, acute respiratory infections and digestive problems. Mental health, which topped the telehealth utilization list in 2016, was fifth in 2017 at 7% of claims, compared with 13% for the aforementioned uses. Per the report, pediatric visits and young adults were well-served, but the age 31 to 60 demographic continued to use it the most.

And interesting note – Minnesota was one of the top telehealth claim reporters in 2016 – but not in 2017. IN fact none of the top users in 2016 were top users in 2017. It shows the speed with which telehealth is catching on.