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Telemedicine Glossary

GlossaryAsynchronous- Term describing the store-and-forward transmission of medical images and/or data because the data transfer takes place over a period of time, and typically in separate time frames. The transmission typically does not take place simultaneously. This is the opposite of synchronous.

Business Associate (BA)- Any individual or entity that performs functions or activities on behalf of a covered entity that requires the business associate to access PHI is considered a business associate. This individual or organization may also provide services to a covered entity.

Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS)- A federal agency within the United States Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) that administers the Medicare program and works in partnership with state governments to administer Medicaid, the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), and Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) standards.

Direct to Consumer- the ability to make healthcare instruction free and easily accessible to any patient, anywhere, anytime.

Distant site- Site at which the physician or other licensed practitioner delivering the service is located at the time the service is provided via a telecommunications system. Other common names for this term include hub site, specialty site, provider/physician site and referral site. The site may also be referred to as the consulting site.

Ehealth- Healthcare practice supported by electronic processes and communication.

Encryption- A system of encoding electronic data where the information can only be retrieved and decoded by the person or computer system authorized to access it.

Facilitator, Presenter (Patient Presenter)- An individual with a clinical background (e.g., LPN, RN, etc) trained in the use of telehealth equipment who must be available at the originating site to “present” the patient, manage the cameras and perform any “hands-on” activities to complete the tele-exam successfully. In certain cases, a licensed practitioner such as an RN or LPN might not be necessary, and a non-licensed provider such as support staff, could provide tele-presenting functions. Requirements (legal) for presenter qualifications differ by location and should be followed.

Mhealth- Practice of medicine and public health supported by mobile communication devices, such as mobile phones, tablet computers and PDAs for health services and information.

Originating site- Location of the Medicaid patient at the time the service being furnished via a telecommunications system occurs. Telepresenters may be needed to facilitate the delivery of this service. Other common names for this term include spoke site, patient site, remote site, and rural site.

Parity, coverage- both in-person and telemedicine services are covered for the same indication.

Parity, payment- reimbursement for telemedicine services approximates that of the equivalent in -person EM service.

Peripherals- Any device attached externally to a computer (e.g., scanners, mouse pointers, printers, keyboards, and clinical monitors such as pulse oximeters, weight scales).

Protected Health Information (PHI)- Part of the HIPAA Privacy Rule that protects all "individually identifiable health information" held or transmitted by a covered entity or its business associate, in any form or media, whether electronic, paper, or oral. The Privacy Rule calls this information "protected health information (PHI).” Individually identifiable health information” is information, including demographic data, that relates to the individual’s past, present or future physical or mental health or condition, the provision of health care to the individual, or the past, present, or future payment for the provision of health care to the individual, and that identifies the individual or for which there is a reasonable basis to believe it can be used to identify the individual. Individually identifiable health information includes many common identifiers (e.g., name, address, birth date, Social Security Number).The Privacy Rule excludes from protected health information employment records that a covered entity maintains in its capacity as an employer and education and certain other records subject to, or defined in, the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, 20 U.S.C. §1232g.

Remote Monitoring- Type of ambulatory healthcare where patients use mobile medical devices to perform a routine test and send the test data to a healthcare professional in real-time. Remote monitoring includes devices such as glucose meters for patients with diabetes and heart or blood pressure monitors for patients receiving cardiac care.  

Synchronous- Interactive video connections that transmit information in both directions during the same time period.

Telemedicine- Telemedicine is the use of medical information exchanged from one site to another via electronic communications to improve patients' health status. Telemedicine is not a separate medical specialty. Products and services related to telemedicine are often part of a larger investment by health care institutions in either information technology or the delivery of clinical care. Even in the reimbursement fee structure, there is usually no distinction made between services provided on site and those provided through telemedicine and often no separate coding required for billing of remote services. Telemedicine encompasses different types of programs and services provided for the patient. Each component involves different providers and consumers.  

Telehealth- Term used to encompass a broader definition of remote healthcare that does not always involve clinical services. Videoconferencing, transmission of still images, e-health including patient portals, remote monitoring of vital signs, continuing medical education and nursing call centers are all considered part of telehealth.

American Telemedicine Association
 Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, 20 U.S.C. §1232g

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