Children's Hospital Colorado

Frequently Asked Questions About Telehealth in Colorado

Children's Hospital Colorado | April 23, 2015
Dr. Jennifer Raymond uses telemedicine with a patient in rural Colorado as part of the CoYoT1 Diabetes Management Program
Dr. Jennifer Raymond uses telemedicine with a patient in rural Colorado as part of the CoYoT1 Diabetes Management Program

Answered by Dr. Fred Thomas, Director of Telehealth at Children’s Hospital Colorado

What is telehealth?

Telehealth (also known as telemedicine) is the remote delivery of healthcare, clinical information and patient/provider education using technology. Some people say telehealth is like Facetime or Skype with your doctor, but with medical-grade HIPAA compliant tools. Essentially, telemedicine provides the convenience of best-practice medical care for patient visits or education at a time and place most convenient for the family. Learn more about the Department of Telehealth.

How does telehealth work?

Children’s Hospital Colorado uses the latest HIPAA-compliant, encrypted technology that is very easy to use. To get started, we issue you a Vidyo account, you download it on the devices you’d like to use (e.g. computer, laptop, tablet or smartphone), we provide hands-on training, and you’re ready to get started. Get started using telehealth with Children's Colorado.

Who can use telehealth?

Anyone who is capable of using technology like Skype or Facebook is capable of using telemedicine. More than half of U.S. hospitals now use some sort of telehealth, and that rate is increasing every day.

What are the advantages of telehealth versus traditional “in person” doctor’s appointments?

The primary benefits of telehealth are that it helps reduce healthcare access problems and it drives down the cost of care. Telehealth from Children’s Colorado gives patients and their families increased access to best-practice care, with the convenience of being at home or in their community provider’s office rather than driving to one of our locations.

What type of patients can benefit from telehealth?

A variety of patients and their families are benefiting from telemedicine, such as:

  • Patients who live in a remote area and need Children’s Colorado expertise in their local Emergency Department during an urgent/emergency situation.
  • Patients who need to maintain regular contact with their Children’s Colorado specialist but can’t afford to travel to Denver as frequently as needed.
  • Patients being discharged from Children’s Colorado after a complicated surgery, whose parents and community-based provider would like to know what happens next.

What conditions are commonly treated with telehealth?

The majority of medical conditions can be treated via telehealth, with the exception of complex procedures like surgery. Telehealth is used most in the areas of radiology, cardiology, psychiatry, dermatology and endocrinology. 

How has telehealth worked for adolescents and young adults with diabetes?

The CoYoT1 (Colorado Youth Type 1) Diabetes Management Program uses telehealth to support adolescents and young adults who are managing their own diabetes. The patients in this program will be able to attend their multidisciplinary medical visits "virtually" from the comfort of their home, dorm room or workplace. Individuals in this stage of life with Type 1 Diabetes often experience significant struggles with their diabetes management (especially if they’re at college or living away from home and their doctors for the first time), which can lead to serious health complications. Telehealth technology allows for more frequent contact with medical providers, resulting in improved medical outcomes.

Are there any legal, privacy or regulatory concerns about telehealth?

All telehealth services at Children’s Colorado are in compliance with licensure, malpractice and liability regulations, within scope of practice, and meet security and HIPAA requirements. 

How can I get started with telehealth?

To get started, please contact Gerard Frunzi in the Children’s Colorado Telehealth Department (phone: 720-777-0104 or email: gerard.frunzi@childrenscolorado.org). We will walk you through the entire process, from training and installing your equipment, to support of your clinical or educational efforts. We look forward to talking with you!

What does the recent House Bill signed into law mean for telehealth?

On March 20, 2015, Governor John Hickenlooper signed a bill expanding telehealth services in the state — prompting Children’s Hospital Colorado to put the new law to use immediately. House Bill 1029 will improve access to telehealth for Coloradans across the state. It requires insurers to reimburse healthcare providers for telehealth services in counties of all sizes.

State law had previously required reimbursement only for counties with 150,000 residents or fewer, but health systems said that technology-enabled visitations can aid urban residents as well with everything from oncology consultations to chronic-disease management. Read more about the recent expansion bill signed into law.

How much does telemedicine cost? What telehealth services are paid for by insurance and/or Medicaid?

Medicaid: In Colorado, Medicaid covers almost all medical care delivered using telemedicine technology. Some educational services are covered. Services must be delivered to a valid site of practice, and patients’ homes are not currently eligible.

Private insurance: Until a recent change in Colorado law, patients who lived in an urban setting could not receive medical services via technology and have it paid for by their private insurance. The recent change requires insurance companies to pay for telehealth services in urban settings the same way they are paid in rural settings. The law will have a delayed implementation to allow insurance companies to properly price their services.

Learn more about how to use telemedicine at Children's Colorado.


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