6 Things You Should Know about Store and Forward Telehealth

At-Home Diagnostic Testing

6 Things You Should Know about Store and Forward Telehealth

Ash Team

Store and forward telehealth is one way providers can access crucial patient information and provide care services with limited resources and greater efficiency. Not only does it allow providers to treat patients remotely, but store and forward enables them to review lab results, X-rays, pictures of blemishes, and other materials without a real time video or telephone consultation.

What is store and forward telehealth? 

Store and forward is an asynchronous form of telehealth that enables patients to submit clinical and medical information from a remote location. Patients, providers, and specialists can share information without an in-person appointment or series of appointments. 

This type of telemedicine is useful for population screening initiatives and specialist oversight, wherein the patient receives high-quality care without face-to-face consultation or video examination. It is possible to combine store and forward telemedicine with synchronous telehealth services to support timely patient treatment or otherwise link them to care

What are the three types of telemedicine?

The three types of telemedicine are synchronous, asynchronous, and remote. Store and forward is an asynchronous type of telemedicine. 

  • Synchronous telehealth is the most common type of telehealth and happens in real-time. Patients interact with a provider over the phone or on video call. 
  • Asynchronous telemedicine allows providers to review medical or clinical information from a patient without interacting in real time. This could include a photo of a skin condition, lab results, or an X-ray. 
  • Remote patient monitoring pairs well with other forms of telehealth. It allows providers to monitor patient issues through remote devices like heart monitors or apnea monitors. 

Which is an example of store and forward telemedicine?

There are many use cases for store and forward telehealth, including the examples below. 

  • Teledermatology is the practice of remote dermatology where patients submit a photograph or video of a skin condition for review and diagnosis. In some cases, teledermatology is more reliable than an in-person consultation. Dermatology is already a visually-dependent field, so providers can review patient concerns from store and forward samples. 
  • At-home PrEP screening is performed by providers through remote diagnostics as part of medication adherence. Patients on PrEP can complete quarterly testing requirements by submitting blood samples on DBS cards for review by lab technicians. Providers can reach out to patients at a later date if results require additional confirmatory testing.
  • Remote STI testing helps providers reach and screen patients through store and forward sample collection. Patients receive STI kits in the mail and return self-collected samples to a lab. Providers reach out to patients with reactive test results and connect them to care.  

Schedule a time to talk with Ash Wellness about self-collection testing services, including access to our national lab network, for your patient population.

What are the disadvantages of store and forward?

Store and forward telemedicine is not alway covered by Medicare and Medicaid programs or insurance. All states provide Medicare/Medicaid reimbursement for some form of live video telehealth and many require the real-time component as a prerequisite, though others (North Carolina, Illinois, and Ohio) bill store and forward as a communication technology-based service. Forty-three states, the District of Columbia and Virgin Islands have a private payer law that addresses telehealth reimbursement. 

What are the benefits of store and forward?

This type of telehealth is especially useful in rural or remote areas where specialists are limited. Patients can submit samples and other medical information for review by a provider, such as a dermatologist or radiologist, and receive diagnosis or care without scheduling an in-person or remote synchronous visit. 

At-home diagnostics in particular is beneficial for public health initiatives that seek to screen large patient populations without transporting whole blood samples. Public health officials can mail Dried Blood Spot cards to patients or hand them out during community engagement initiatives. They can retrieve the DSB cards in the mail or ask patients to complete them in-person — even in line at another event — and transport samples without expensive equipment.   

Dried Blood Spot cards can be completed at home by patients and submitted to providers through the mail.

How does Ash Wellness support store and forward telehealth? 

Ash Wellness enables providers to offer at-home diagnostic testing, a store and forward technique that can supplement or replace in-person or synchronous alternatives. We partner with public health, traditional medical institutions, digital health, and student health to support screening programs, telehealth services, health equity initiatives, and testing-partnered products through our at-home diagnostic testing infrastructure. 

The Ash Platform lets clients plug into a provider of record service, CLIA/CAP certified lab network, and white-labeled kitting service, and provides access to quick-launch client and patient portals to get your program up and running fast.   

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