Telemedicine Reimbursement Revisited

As advances in technology have made remote healthcare and treatment more accessible, the question of insurance reimbursement for these services continues to be top of mind. In 2012, we featured a post regarding telemedicine reimbursement. In the 18 months since that post was published significant progress has been made in the area.

When looking at reimbursement it is important to understand what types of programs and institutions are eligible and what that truly means. At its very core, reimbursement in the telemedicine world requires insurance companies to pay the same fee for telemedicine services that would otherwise be covered with an in-person visit.

Programs that could benefit can vary from state to state but generally reimbursement is available through Medicare, Medicaid, Private Insurance, and Federally Qualified Health Centers.

From a private insurance standpoint, a significant number of states have made reimbursement a mandate; however, there are still many states that haven’t made this mandate law.  Similarly, from a Medicaid perspective many states have mandated reimbursement and there are several currently proposing reimbursement.

It is clear that many have recognized the value of telehealth and that recognition continues to drive more and more legislation to provide equity between in-person and remote visits.

Check out the info graphic below for a quick summary of everything you need to know about reimbursement!

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This Week In Collaboration

Welcome to our bi-weekly recap of the week’s best articles surrounding collaboration.

Deliver what every CEO wants through Cloud Collaboration
CEOs want IT leaders to figure out how technology can help their business transform and expand, as much as make it operate. Thanks to the consumerization of IT and the explosion of mobile and social technologies, there is a unique opportunity to embed IT into an organization’s overall business strategy. When IT leaders define what business problem they are trying to solve and test the right technology solution, they can become an integral part of running, changing and growing a business.

How states can encourage web-based health care in hospitals
A University of Michigan researcher has found that 42 percent of U.S. hospitals use some type of “telehealth” approach. Telehealth seems to be something hospitals use to differentiate themselves. People often think about rural areas when they think about telehealth, however adoption was just as likely in competitive markets. It’s about using technology to lower operating costs and deliver care more efficiently.

Should HR recruit through video conferencing?
While the use of video conferencing to help speed up the recruitment process is well known, a study from the Montage Talent Candidate Report found that 97% of job candidates felt organizations who utilized video interviewing were more innovative and forward thinking. Video conferencing can aid HR in the areas of recruitment, training, and meetings, a report from video conferencing firm Blue Jeans asserts.

Digital Technology and the Olympics: When Is it Cheating?
We take advantage of advanced digital technologies for efficiency, effectiveness, and loftier performance in business, so why wouldn’t an athlete use these technologies to their advantage while in training or on the field of athletic competition? Is this a fair practice? If everyone has equal access to the technology, then is it fair? At what point does technology tip beyond being a clever innovation along the continuum of progress to cross the line into cheating for unfair advantage?

User Behavior and Training Critical to Secure Mobility
Worker mobility has become an essential practice for government agencies. From teleworking on the road to accessing critical data on your smart phone, mobility increases productivity and employee satisfaction. With the increased proliferation of mobile devices comes the need to ensure that appropriate policies and procedures are in place so agencies can take advantage of increased capabilities while still maintaining high levels of security.

The 5 W’s of a Video Conferencing Strategy

Video conferencing initiatives continue to be an increasing priority to many organizations. With advancements in technology, the promise of connecting people anywhere, any time, on any device is now an attainable goal when video collaboration is implemented correctly. The first step in this process is to put together a solid video collaboration strategy.

As a starting point, here are 5 important for getting your video strategy off on the right foot.

Who will be using video?
More specifically, what business units will be using video? Will this be for executives only? Will different departments have access to the video conferencing equipment/services?

What will they be using it for?
What type of meetings will be taking place when using video conferencing? Will they be internal or also have external participants? Will they be point to point meetings or will you need multipoint capabilities for larger meetings? Determining your priorities for these meetings will help with demonstrating immediate value.

Where will these meetings take place?
Will you have dedicated conference rooms with video conferencing equipment? Will these be in all of your locations? Will you allow desktop video conferencing and mobile conferencing abilities? These questions will also help with determining what type of technologies and if you need to implement a BYOD policy.

When will this be purchased?
What is your purchasing procedure? Will this be something that you can move forward with once the correct technologies are determined? Does your organization view video conferencing as an op-ex or cap-ex purchase? These questions are important for determining the best way to purchase this equipment and if certain options like leasing might make sense.

Why do you want to implement video?
This may be the most important question when putting together your video strategy. You must determine what your organization is trying to accomplish and what the goals are with regards to video collaboration. Once this question is answered, you will be able to choose correct technologies and implement a strategy that will work towards those goals.

Once you are successfully able to answer these 5 questions your next step will be to determine the technology, and equally as important, begin creating a video adoption strategy. IVCi can help you build a high quality video conferencing strategy and implementation as well as assist with adoption and usage strategies.

Are you ready to move forward with your video conferencing strategy? Contact us for a free consultation.

This Week In Collaboration

Welcome to our bi-weekly recap of the week’s best articles surrounding collaboration.

What Next for BYOD?
Cisco introduced a BYOD solution to remove some of the burden from IT Departments and provide them with a central point for managing many aspects of the BYOD lifecycle including on-boarding, device profiling, authentication, authorization, offboarding, and self-service management. This all fits in to the recently created industry segment, Mobile Device Management.

4 Productivity Tips for Business Meetings
Many people dread meetings and conference calls and according to a Blue Jeans Network survey, 6% of employees have admitted to falling asleep during conference calls. 4 tips for making the most of your meetings include; face-to-face interaction, timing, less talk, more action, and giving everyone a voice are very important to successful meetings.

How does your mobile define how you work?
A new term, ‘generation mobile’, has been coined for individuals who are defined by their preference for mobility both in terms of the devices they use and their approach to work. The majority of generation mobile individuals are in the early stages of their career and own three or more connected devices. As opposed to using these devices to aide in their workday, they are shaping their working lives around their mobile devices.

The Future of Enterprise Communications: A Customer Perspective
Frost & Sullivan published the results of their annual end user survey on enterprise communications. Business-grade softphones, tablets, and UC clients are expected to experience the most significant increases in demand over the next three years, and cloud computing is expected to increase by 20% over the same time period. Similarly, the rise of the virtual organization and the need to support remote workers, mobility, and bring-your-own technology (BYOT), along with the growing demand for social networking, visual collaboration, and a more personalized experience, are top of mind for IT decision makers and having a considerable impact on IT investment decisions.

Web, video conference insomnia therapies show promise
Insomnia treatment that’s delivered through a web-based program or video conference may help people feel less tired during the day, according to a small study from Canada. For people in rural areas, who may not have access to more traditional treatments, they can use video conferencing to connect with doctors. The study suggests that both web and telehealth based treatments of insomnia show promise and are worthy of further development and study.

4 Ways Video Conferencing Can Help Enhance Customer Relationships

Video conferencing has long been known for reducing travel costs, saving time, and strengthening collaboration within an organization. However, when organizations utilize video conferencing to support customer relationships they have the chance to increase the ROI on their technology investment and boost both new and existing client relationships.

There are multiple ways that video conferencing can add value to customer relationships.  Here are a few that stand out;

1. Training:
Organizations can use video conferencing to help train customers on the product or service they are purchasing. This can help make the training more efficient and allows the ability to provide face-to-face training without needing to be on-location.

2. New Product Updates:
A great way to stay in touch with customers is by giving new product and existing product updates. By using video conferencing to give these updates, companies can stay connected face to face more efficiently with multiple clients.

3. Market Research:
The best way to determine what your customers and future customers need is with market research. Using video conferencing to connect with customers and gather their input is invaluable for R&D. These meetings also give companies a chance to strengthen customer relationships.

4. Adding additional resources during in-person meetings:
When on-location with customer, often times it is essential to have additional resources (i.e. engineers, technicians) there to assist with the meeting. Having those individuals connect to the meeting over video allows them provide overall support more efficiently by reducing the time lost if traveling to each meeting.

Understanding the many different ways that video conferencing can benefit an organization is imperative in truly understanding the value of visual collaboration.

To learn more about how video conferencing can assist your organization, contact us for a personalized consultation.

 

Should I Lease Or Buy Video Conferencing Equipment?

As video conferencing becomes more and more crucial, the decision goes from whether or not to invest to how should we invest? When it comes to buying video conferencing equipment, leasing or buying are the two main options. Which one is the best option? This all depends on each individual companies requirements, bottom line, and preference. Here is a look at some of the pros and cons of each to help you decide what’s best for your organization.

Buying Equipment

Pros:
1. Provides more options and increased flexibility since organizations have total control over what they purchase.
2. Endpoints and infrastructure can be customized to meet the organizations exact specifications and requirements.

Cons:
1. Larger upfront costs associated with purchasing equipment.
2. Equipment can become updated prior to it wearing out.
3. The equipment can be complex and difficult to install and maintain if company does not have the right technical resources.

Leasing Equipment

Pros:
1. No upfront costs & predictable monthly payments.
2. Equipment is easier to update and replace, giving companies access to the latest and greatest technology.

Cons:
1. In the long run, leasing is normally much more expensive than purchasing and companies will always have an equipment payment.
2. Leasing is more complex as it requires more paperwork, credit checks, and financial information to procure.

The decision to lease or purchase often comes down to how much flexibility a company needs and how much cash they have at hand for an upfront purchase. Depending on budgets, this comes down to if a company would prefer to purchase the equipment as a cap-ex or op-ex expense. Once you determine how your organization would like to purchase the equipment, the next step will be determining your use cases and how you will be using video conferencing in order to determine what solutions make the most sense for you.

Want to learn more about your leasing options? Contact us to schedule a consultation where we will walk you through your purchasing options as well as help you determine what video conferencing equipment makes the most sense for your organization.

This Week In Collaboration

 

Welcome to our bi-weekly recap of the week’s best articles surrounding collaboration.

First Look: Why Banks Should Copy Amazon s Mayday Video Support

Financial institutions should take notice of Amazon’s video on-demand customer service feature and think about utilizing a similar service on their mobile and tablet applications. Giving customers the ability to speak to a customer service representative face-to-face from their mobile device or tablet could exponentially improve their users digital experience.  This could not only help customer service but also be further extended as a sales tool when branch personnel help with remote assistance to their customers.

Getting Great Audio in a Video Call

Video conferencing has helped to make communication an increasingly enriching experience. However, quality audio in a video call is an essential aspect that cannot be overlooked. Some of the important ways to get great audio include; good echo cancellation, a wide range of frequencies carried by a system, directional microphones, specialized signal processing, high quality speakers and an audio visual optimized room. Any effort to achieve better sound will quickly pay off with more productive and energetic meetings.

Virtualizing Video

Cisco announced it is virtualizing Videoscape, their leading immersive video solution, by putting it in to the cloud. It now is offering cloud software capabilities that can run on public and private clouds, enabling service providers to deploy new video applications on demand. They are also offering Videoscape Cloud Services functionality “as a service” using a unique consumption based model. Cisco Cloud Fusion for Videoscape ties all of the implementation options together. It allows SP’s to seamlessly integrate various models of deploying Videoscape to best support their business needs, maximizing return-on-investment.

A Third of Meetings Use Mobile

According to Blue Jeans Network’s bi-annual “State of the Modern Meeting” report, a 1/3 of all meetings now include a participant on a mobile device. Some other findings include that 71% of people believe they lost a deal due to the lack of face-to-face interaction and 6% admitted to falling asleep during an audio-only meeting. Using video conferencing has proven that visual collaboration is possible regardless of budget-cuts, holidays, bad weather, or geographic dispersion.

Collaboration Wanted; Employee Buy-In Required

Collaboration technology promises many benefits. These advanced solutions remove traditional communication barriers and make it easier to conduct business and speed up decision-making. These solutions can also provide travel savings and reduced office space necessary when implementing telework policies. However, to truly benefit from collaboration tools, end-user buy-in is critical. Because collaboration technology is designed to improve the way people interact, it is very personal. Due to this, users need to have a firm understanding of how the solution is going to meet their own unique needs.

Web Conferencing vs. Video Conferencing

Video conferencing and web conferencing are two commonly confused technologies. Traditionally, these two applications were very different. At a very basic level, web conferencing focused on content sharing while video conferencing focused on providing face-to-face interaction.

Web conferencing is and was often used for lectures, presentations and webinars for larger groups of people. They were also designed for individuals to easily join from their desktop. Depending on the solution, web conferencing had either two-way audio capabilities or only one-way audio for the presenter.

On the other hand, video conferencing was most frequently used for meetings between two different locations. The video conference consisted of two-way video and audio transmission. Likewise, the equipment was designed for conference rooms and meant for groups at two locations as opposed to individual usage from their desktop.

However, lines are now blurring when deciphering the difference between these two conferencing tools. This is due to web conferencing applications adding two-way video capabilities and video conferencing solutions including the ability to share content and present. Furthering the confusion, both web and video capabilities are being built in to other collaboration software solutions. These changes and additions to the technologies have transformed two separate tools in to very similar offerings. One might say that it is now a matter of what features you need in your collaboration tool as opposed to the old question of “web conferencing or video conferencing?”

When trying to sort out what technology and tools makes the most sense for your organization, the best place to start is answering a few important questions;

  1. What types of meetings will be conducted?
  2. How many people/locations will be participating in these meetings?
  3. Will people be joining these meetings from a conference room, desktop, mobile, or all three?
  4.  Are people or content the focus of the meetings?
  5. What do you want your collaboration solution to accomplish? What are your end goals?

These are just a few of the important questions that must be answered when determining what collaboration technology makes the most sense for your organization. Once these are answered, it is important to put together a full collaboration plan in order to get the most from your technology deployment. This includes everything from technology selection to usage and adoption plans once the tools are implemented.

Still confused on what conferencing technology makes the most sense for your organization? Contact us for a consultation and let us help you in determining where your business needs lie and what technology fits those best.

5 Ways Santa Uses Video Conferencing

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Santa is officially headed out and is on his way to our homes to leave gifts for everyone all over the globe. While he is away, how does he stay connected to all back at the North Pole? On second thought, how does he stay connected all year round? Well video conferencing plays a big part in Santa’s role as CEO, husband, and global gift giver. Take a look at a few of the ways that Santa uses video collaboration to make his life a little bit easier.

Driving Elf Productivity

Santa has a demanding job being the CEO of the entire elf workforce. Therefore, using video conferencing helps him to expedite decision making, enhance the ability for him and the elves to function as a team, creates more efficient meetings with the elves while he is out on the sleigh, and betters his ability to quickly ensure toy quality while the elves are on the production floor. All of these help elf productivity and allow Santa more time to spend time with Mrs. Clause.

Staying Connected With Mrs. Clause

That brings me to my next point. We all know how important it is to spend time with your significant other. This applies to Santa as well. Whether he is out on the sleigh traveling around the globe delivering presents, or spending time at the toy production facility, he can still connect with Mrs. Clause via video conferencing. Even better, with BYOD abilities, Santa can use his tablet or mobile device to conduct video calls instead of having to lug his computer around on the sleigh. Video conferencing with Santa makes for a happy Mrs. Clause, and we all know the saying….happy wife, happy life!

Collaboration With Parents

It is quite the task for Santa to go through the lengthy naughty or nice list every year. Utilizing video conferencing to speak to parents about how their children are acting this year, makes going through the list much more efficient. Santa can also use video to share content about trending toys to help get ideas and input for toy production the coming year.

Elf Recruitment

As the elf population continues to grow, it becomes increasingly important to find efficient ways to conduct elf interviews. Likewise, with toys being more and more technologically advanced, it is imperative to recruit the best talent possible. By using video conferencing, Santa can conduct interviews regardless of the elf’s location. Santa can also conduct more interviews in less time by alleviating the need for elves to travel to Santa’s workshop to partake in the vigorous interview process. Video conferencing gives Santa the ability to find the best and the brightest elves from all over the North Pole without even leaving his home.

Connecting With Sick Children

Some children in hospitals are not able to get to wherever Santa is to sit on his lap to let him know what they want for Christmas. By working with Cisco Systems, he has come up with a program called Connected Santa. This allows Santa to connect with hospitals all over the world and use video conferencing technology and equipment to make bedside visits to sick children. Santa does not want to forget any child around Christmas and this use of video collaboration allows him to make sure he gets to all of them.

Collaboration: A Year In Review

2013 has been another great year for collaboration. A few trends that continue to be at the forefront of innovation include big data, SaaS, Mobility, Content, Social, and Telework. Below we will look back on some of these popular collaboration trends of 2013 and why they continue to help shape collaboration.

Domination of SaaS and the “Cloud”:
SaaS and the Cloud have continued to influence the IT industry this year. SaaS companies have continued to grow, and many providers of on-premise software and hardware options are now introducing SaaS solutions to both complement existing solutions and give alternative options in order to retain their customer base. The benefits of these SaaS solutions include no installation of hardware or software, faster release cycles, pay as you go usage and no maintenance costs. Another reason organizations are moving to cloud-based options is the ability to scale. This flexibility with cloud services allows organizations to purchase for their current usage, expand the solution as demand and usage increases, and add functionality as the business grows.

Mobility Wars:
BYOD is here, and it is not going anywhere. According to IDC, there will be 6-7 mobile devices to every PC by 2016. The challenge is no longer if you will support BYOD, but which devices will make up your BYOD strategy. The mobility war between mobile device manufacturers remains as well, and applications to make these devices more effective continue to expand at rapid rates. With that said, questions are now centered around vendor preference/combination, security, versions, scrubbing and customer data. No doubt, these concerns and decisions will be a main focus this coming year as mobility continues to dominate the forefront of technology and collaboration.

Collision of Video & Content:
Although most people think of video collaboration as only video calls, the ability to display, discuss and annotate content while conducting a video call is extremely important to achieving effective collaboration. Video collaboration and content collaboration have both been around for years as separate entities. This integration of the two has finally matured this year resulting in companies experiencing better collaboration, faster decisions, and ultimately, BETTER experiences!

Convenient Social Collaboration:
Social collaboration is about the casual interactions among colleagues, business partners and even customers that enable creativity and drive innovation. Creating both formal (video/web conferences) and informal (IM or quick video chat) collaboration sessions enables colleagues to brainstorm and make decisions in the most effective manner. Unified communication tools with presence makes it easy to tell when people are available and easily hop from email/IM to video chat. This quick and convenient connection increases interactions among colleagues, which in turn increases productivity and drives innovation.

The Year of the Video Start-Ups:
This year could be called the year of visual collaboration start-ups. Some noteworthy ones include Videxio, Pexip, & Acano. Pexip introduced a scalable software platform that provides personal meeting rooms for any number of users on video, voice, & mobile. Videxio, a subscription based, infrastructure as a service (IaaS) offering, makes large scale and rapid deployment of video conferencing both possible and easy. Acano brought us coSpaces; virtual meetings rooms where users can connect with any device or application they have with the added benefit of dedicated spaces for people to organize and exchange ideas by storing chat logs, content, and meeting notes. These companies continue to bring innovative solution to the visual collaboration world.

Big Data Boom:
Data continues to grow and based on IDC estimates, will continue to grow at 50% a year and more than double every two years. Companies continue to need to analyze large amounts of data streaming in, understand the voice of the customer in the social media world, and find better ways to create visual data in order to facilitate better and faster decision-making. The growth in big data has created a culture of data-driven analytics used to make key business decisions. Organizations have also been forced to take a closer look at data security and data privacy in order to address and prevent security threats. How organizations use data to gain competitive advantage continues to be a debate, however, the information gathered from handling and managing big data collaboratively is advantageous to any organization.

To Telework or Not to Telework? –  That is the question:
The telecommuting debate has emerged with a vengeance this year due to noteworthy announcements like Yahoo’s CEO Marissa Mayer discontinuing telework policies and the Federal Government’s  introduction of the Stay in Place Cut the waste initiative. Marissa Mayer’s controversial ban on telework centered around her belief that collaboration and communication are important in continuing to build the business and for that to happen effectively, people need to be working side by side. This new policy received harsh criticism ranging from anti-feminisms comments to the belief that Yahoo was moving backwards by removing the ability to telecommute. On the other end of the spectrum, the Stay in Place, Cut the Waste Act was introduced in July. This would require the government to develop a plan that reduces agency travel expenses by up to 50% by 2017 by implementing video conferencing technologies. By utilizing video conferencing, individuals can stay connected face-to-face without the need for expensive travel and loss of time. Other advocates for telecommuting argue that not only does productivity increase, but employees are also happier and achieve a better work/life balance when they have the option to work remotely. As research continues on both ends, the debate will remain.

Looking back at 2013 illustrates just how important collaboration has become. Organizations throughout the world have upgraded collaboration technologies to mission critical applications. The above trends tell a compelling story about the need to address not only the technological challenges of connecting people but also the social, psychological, and business issues involved in people working together. Ultimately, moving any business forward requires a keen eye on the power of people. In 2014, organizations who have not embraced those ideals will find themselves struggling to compete.