Monthly Archives: May 2016

Why You Should Medicare about Alternative Payment Models

Early in my career, around 1995-96, I was selected by Vice President Al Gore to sit on a senatorial/congressional Sub-Committee to talk about reimbursement for “video teleconferencing for medicine.” I remember Senator John D. “Jay” Rockefeller, IV, the chair, telling us all in the first meeting that “one day, this will be the biggest thing in medicine.” After putting the first “payment plan”11280389_s legislation in motion for telemedicine, we are all still waiting for his statement to come true! Today, at last, we are a few steps closer to his famous statement…

“Simplicity is the soul of efficiency.” –Austin Freeman

If this quote is true, and I believe it is, it is not surprising that telemedicine had a slow start when it was introduced to health care. The technology itself has never been overly complicated, however navigating the ever winding web of HIPPA compliance and the insurance systems payment models stifled any growth that telemedicine was poised to show early on.

As of late, that has all started to change. Many technologies now actively address patient privacy, encryption, and secure data storage that mitigate any potential threats to the security of patient’s medical information. Many states are also now passing legislation to make sure that telemedicine services are paid by insurance companies just like in person visits would be. And the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, (CMS), have put quotas into place for services that need to be billed using Alternative Payment Models (APM).

What is an APM exactly and what is the purpose of promoting them?

“All alternative payment models (APM) and payment reforms that seek to deliver better care at lower cost share a common pathway for success: providers, payers, and others in the health care system must make fundamental changes in their day-to-day operations that improve quality and reduce the cost of health care.” –CMS

The take away here is that better care at a lower cost requires “fundamental changes” in the way healthcare providers run their operations. And as we all know, change is never easy. There must be some promise of reward to drive it forward, which is why APMs are so important. They provide the pathway for change by providing stronger incentives to do so.

Telemedicine services fall squarely in the wheelhouse of APMs as they promote physician efficiency, improve access to and potential quality of care, and can be provided for a fraction of the cost of face to face visits. It is for these reasons that CMS is aiming to grow payment of services paid through APMs to 30% of all services by the end of this year (2016) and to 50% of all services by 2018. The 2018 goal also links 90% of all payments through all payment models to quality of care, not just a fee for a service.

No longer will patients be paying for “time” in front of a medical professional, but their care and the payment of it will be more directly linked to the value of the service provided. Providers will be incentivized for providing the best quality of care in the most efficient manner possible or they may not be paid at all.

The question then is not whether or not healthcare practices and facilities will be substantially affected by APMs, but rather if they are ready to provide services like telemedicine that fit the bill. With the amazing advantages in technology like those in Web RTC and several technology grant programs being offered today, there really are very few reasons that forward thinking healthcare organizations shouldn’t be ramping up their telemedicine services ASAP.

Avidex AV is revolutionizing the way healthcare facilities and doctors are delivering care. Their 20 years of experience is being leveraged to drive down the cost of care while promoting positive healthcare outcomes. Is your organization looking for a new kind of technology partner? Connect with one of our Account Executives today to learn more.







Bob Higginbotham

About Bob Higginbotham

Bob Higginbotham, CTS-I, CTS-D, is the Avidex National Manager of Healthcare AV. Bob has spent his 30 year career in leadership positions in the AV industry including extensive design and build work in healthcare facilities. He owned and operated a successful AV business in Texas with multiple offices in several cities where he managed a staff of over 100 employees. Bob has served as a technical consultant for a major AV manufacturer, led the technical sales team for a national video conferencing provider and provided technology auditing services for several private education facilities. He has a unique working knowledge of audiovisual technology as well as multiple certifications in audio engineering, acoustics, AV design, CQT system commissioning and video transmission systems. Bob holds a BA in communications and has recently served as board chair for a large private school. He brings his years of technical knowledge and leadership experience to Avidex where he leads the national healthcare AV team. Contact Bob at

Telemedicine: Putting Inmate Healthcare Costs on Lockdown.

Read any of the headlines on America’s prison system today and you will find a common theme. It’s expensive to maintain. Incarcerating people is often necessary to protect society, but it does 19606432_scome at a steep financial cost. We all know the system is expensive, but I doubt many of us know exactly where the money goes. You may be surprised to know that up to 30% of the cost is related to providing healthcare to inmates.

“Typically 9 to 30 percent of corrections costs go to inmate health care. This amounts to hundreds of millions of dollars nationally…” -The Urban Institute

One of the reasons that care is so expensive is that in the United States, we treat our prisoners rather well, and as such, are required to provide them with medical care comparable to that which they would receive if they were not incarcerated. Most times this means transporting them off site to receive healthcare evaluations and services, and providing transportation to and these appointments can really add up.

“In Washington, D.C., for example, inmate medical services in its jail cost about $33 million in 2012, a quarter of its corrections budget. This does not include the cost of sending corrections officers to guard prisoners who receive medical treatment outside the jail.” -The Urban Institute

The cost of sending corrections officers to guard inmates at these appointments should not be minimized or overlooked.

“The cost of guarding inmates transported to medical care outside of prison is approximately $2,000 per inmate per 24 hours. Even for part of a day, the costs associated with transporting an inmate to care can be substantial.” –The Urban Institute

The system is not only very inefficient but it also potentially puts the public safety at risk by removing prisoners from the facilities designed to contain them and instead putting them on the road with armed guards where an escape attempt may be more likely.

So how do we responsibly decrease the cost of care and reduce travel to and from off-site healthcare facilities while still providing humane and comparable care to those in prison?

It seems that Telemedicine may in fact be the answer.

According to The Urban Institute’s report on this subject, “Telemedicine also can reduce costs where demand for a medical specialty does not justify specialized doctors to be available on regular schedules inside the jail. It is especially useful for some specialties, such as radiology, dermatology, and psychiatry.”

Telemedicine creates great efficiencies in providing care that reduce costs anywhere from $200-$1000 per inmate. Not only does cost of care go down, but the quality of care potentially increases, as “telemedicine expands the pool of medical specialists who can be used, as some doctors may be reluctant to practice in a correctional setting.” Better care for less? That sounds like an upside for both the correctional facility and the inmate.

So if your correctional facility would like to save money on providing care and time on transporting inmates to medical appointments all the while increasing public safety and the quality of care, you should be exploring implementing a telemedicine system at your facility. The start-up costs are mainly related to purchasing the appropriate audio video hardware, so from a technology cost perspective, the hurdles are lower than they have ever been and a great technology partner is never more than a phone call away.

Do you want to put your healthcare costs on lockdown? Telemedicine is the answer.

Avidex AV is revolutionizing the way healthcare facilities and doctors are delivering care. Their 20 years of experience is being leveraged to drive down the cost of care while promoting positive healthcare outcomes. Is your organization looking for a new kind of technology partner? Connect with one of our Account Executives today to learn more.





Jim Colquhoun

About Jim Colquhoun

Jim Colquhoun is the Chief Technologist for Avidex. Jim brings an exceptional record of management and operational experience, as well as expertise in the design and integration of communications, AV, and broadcast systems. Jim can be reached at

Telemedicine: Civil War

There is no question that in the modern world of medical marvels, doctors have achieved superhero status. Much like Bruce Wayne or Tony Stark they are blessed with charm in their bedside manner and with superior intellect. Now combine these natural abilities with 21st century technology and you have a force to be reckoned with. Illness do your worst!

One area of medical technology that has helped doctors deliver care faster than a speeding locomotive is telemedicine. 33805115_sMany healthcare practices have been implementing telemedicine as a growing part of their practice, especially given advances that have been made through both legislation and insurance reform to crash through the traditional barriers that made providing care in this manner somewhat difficult in the past.

Now, the challenge can be just connecting patients who value remote care with practices that provide it. And that is where a new app from Astia Health comes into the picture. Their tagline is simply “Healthcare when you need it!”

Astia is a mobile application that provides patients with access to triage nurses and physicians for appointments concerning everything from anxiety to bronchitis to abdominal pain. Astia promises remote care virtually via telemedicine that is not only affordable and convenient but also HIPPA compliant as well to protect patients’ privacy.

Now before you start to think Astia Health is looking to put your practice out of business, they are not. They partner with existing clinicians to allow them an easy entry into the telemedicine market. It allows healthcare practices to get involved in telemedicine without dealing with the pitfalls platforms like Skype may present.

Of course there are still technology needs to be considered at the clinicians practice to make sure that care is delivered in the best way possible while protecting privacy and mitigating any liabilities, but choosing a great technology partner can alleviate those concerns as well.

Astia also takes things up a notch from traditional telemedicine, in that if the symptoms cannot be properly diagnosed and an appropriate treatment recommended virtually, they can dispatch a mobile diagnostic unit to the patient for treatment. Unlike an ambulance, it provides non emergent care to the patient, and it also starts at around $200! It’s not only a value added convenience for the patient, but it also helps alleviate the waiting rooms in Urgent Cares and ERs that are filled with patients with non-emergencies. It’s like a medical Batmobile to the rescue.

So unlike the superhero vs. superhero epics we see today in the theaters, there really is no need for a healthcare civil war between telemedicine application platforms like Astia Health and traditional healthcare practices. Instead, there is the perfect opportunity to form an alliance. Healthcare practices should be teaming up with tech savvy partners to make sure the proper technology is in place, and then leverage platforms like Astia to help connect patients to these newly added services. It’s a win win…for everyone.

Avidex AV is revolutionizing the way healthcare facilities and doctors are delivering care. Their 20 years of experience is being leveraged to drive down the cost of care while promoting positive healthcare outcomes. Is your organization looking for a new kind of technology partner? Connect with one of our Account Executives today to learn more.







Jeff Miller

About Jeff Miller

Jeff has been working in the professional AV integration industry for over twenty years. During that time he has served as Designer, Project Manager and/or Account Executive for hundreds of projects. As an Account Executive at Avidex, he specializes in Medical, Education, and Control Rooms. He can be reached at