Telehealth not only has the ability to increase convenience and improve care for remote patients, it also improves emergency department throughput, and ultimately can reduce potentially avoidable admissions.
While telemedicine capabilities are some of the most exciting existing in healthcare today, inconsistent reimbursement standards continue to hinder successful program adoption. Challenges continue in navigating the state-level variability in regulations and capturing procedures to receive the appropriate compensation and reimbursement. Because of its potential, it is crucial for organizations implementing telehealth to work closely with legislators and insurance companies to ensure reimbursement occurs in a timely and effective manner. Fortunately, the growing interest in implementing telehealth solutions has prioritized reimbursement evolution.
The purpose of this paper is to review the current landscape of telehealth reimbursement and provide insight into strategies for dealing with the complex regulatory environment. For example, when we asked a renown Academic Medical Center in Dallas about its telemedicine capabilities, they give a semi-standard response: “We would like to offer more, but billing is a significant challenge.” We’ll also take a deeper dive and show how one particular organization’s telehealth services are functioning like a well-oiled machine.
Download our Tactical Report on Telehealth Reimbursement >
UC San Diego Health’s Jacobs Medical Center is a visionary healthcare building that functions as three hospitals – housing centers for women’s and infants, cancer care and specialty surgery – in one 10-story building. The building has been widely recognized for its patient-focused design, with media coverage from CNN, Architect’s Newspaper and Dezeen while winning both a Fast Company World Changing Idea award and the AIA National Healthcare Design Award in 2017.
While these accomplishments celebrate the design and key features of the medical center, we wanted to call special attention to specific spaces in the hospital focused on cancer care. In Jacobs, floors four through six are home to the Moores Cancer Center, where multidisciplinary teams of specialists, surgeons and oncologists build on advanced tools to deliver personalized care and cancer treatment trials. With 108 beds, the cancer facility nearly doubles UC San Diego Health’s capacity to treat cancer patients in the area.
Here are three unique elements of Jacobs Medical Center that bolster its ability to deliver quality cancer care:
Pressurized Air to Reduce Infection
The air in the Moores Cancer Center’s blood and marrow transplantation (BMT) floor is positively pressurized and specialty filtered to help reduce the risk of infection for patients with compromised immune functions. These measures allow patients to leave their treatment rooms, walk around open areas of the unit and visit with family and friends.
“(Previously) patients (could) leave their room during certain periods in their treatment but only if they wear a mask because of the vulnerability to infection during this time,” said Edward Ball, MD, director of the UC San Diego Blood and Marrow Transplantation Program. “With the purified air there will be no living things, no viruses and no bacteria floating around. Patients can leave the room and not worry about getting sick. When people are stuck in a room for so long; these differences are critical.”
This change allows physicians to be more at ease with patients outside of their rooms and empowers the BMT floor to deliver a higher level of care. Physicians can do more in one place, keeping patients more relaxed and in familiar environments as opposed to having to be whisked off to other floors for tests or monitoring.
Jacobs Medical Center has been designated a Comprehensive Cancer Center by the National Cancer Institute (NCI) – part of the National Institutes of Health. This designation is reserved for cancer care facilities with the highest achievements in cancer research, clinical care, education and community contributions. NCI-designed comprehensive cancer centers have higher survival and recovery rates due to the fullness of care, diverse oncology disciplines, subspecialty expertise and multidisciplinary teams they support.
At Jacobs Medical Center, multidisciplinary cancer care is in the building’s DNA. Care teams supported in the Moores Cancer Center include specialist from:
- Medical oncology
- Radiation oncology
- Diagnostic imaging and radiology
- Social work
These multi-disciplinary teams can better work together in the new space to determine and execute the best course of treatment for each cancer patient they serve. They also have access to state-of-the-art equipment for minimally invasive and robotic surgery, 3D visualization techniques, and other treatment approaches of brain tumors, prostate cancer and other cancers when needed.
Infused with Nature
Extensive research suggests access to nature can enhance patient care and outcomes. Jacobs Medical Center is designed as a “garden hospital” due to the unique ways it fuses building and landscape. Multiple elevated gardens and terraces bring nature up to the cancer patient levels and patient rooms have expansive windows that overlook the nearby canyon, oceans and sunsets. The Moores Cancer Center specifically offers a Bamboo Garden which houses clinical and research space for UC San Diego Health cancer services, staff and patients.
Outside of patient rooms in the Moores Cancer Center, daylight filters throughout the floors and family rooms are in prominent locations at the end of corridors to allow maximum light and views.
Each of these elements contributes to making Jacobs Medical Center a cutting-edge destination for patients needing cancer care from San Diego, Southern California and across the country. It is a model for other providers to follow in the future.
Learn more about our cancer care efforts >