We Need Your Insights on Telehealth and Telemedicine

October 11, 2016 • By

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Last Updated: August 19, 2021

60thblog-oct-11What is the National Disability Forum?

The National Disability Forum is an open conversation where members of the public, community leaders, and Social Security employees come together to talk about the disability programs. Social Security uses these meetings to listen to you and your community leaders so we can learn what’s important to you.

Your input is important to Social Security. We use what we learn from you and your community to improve our rules and policies to help people with disabilities. The National Disability Forum does not replace Social Security’s normal rule-making process, but it does help us hear from you before we make any new rules. Learn more about the National Disability Forum here.

Our Next National Disability Forum will Focus on Telehealth and Telemedicine

Telehealth includes a variety of ways to use video and other technology to enhance healthcare and related information delivery.  Telemedicine involves clinical services provided by interactive communication, most commonly a video, between a patient and a practitioner at different locations.

We want to learn more about telehealth and telemedicine to determine if there are ways to use them to advance our disability programs.

What can you do?

You can help us by considering the following questions:

  • How can we use telemedicine or telehealth in the claims procedure to better serve individuals with disabilities?
  • How can telemedicine or telehealth help speed our decision-making process at all levels?
  • How else might we use telemedicine or telehealth to improve the administration of our programs, and what factors should we consider?

You can share your insights on these question by posting right here on our blog or at our IdeaScale online tool, or by registering to attend the forum on October 27. Social Security is here to help secure today and tomorrow, and together we can strengthen our disability programs.


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About the Author

Jim Borland, Assistant Deputy Commissioner, Communications

Jim Borland, Assistant Deputy Commissioner, Communications


  1. Marguerite R.


    • Ice

      Also look at the BCBS zero premium plan.

  2. Cathy

    I think that telemedicine is a cop out for a doctor visit. It probably costs the same and yet there are no hands on. The doctor can not physically assess their patient which is a very important part of a doctor visit. It may work as an education tool but should not be substituted as a doctor app’t.

    • Susan C.

      I believe there are systems/attachments so a doctor could hear a heartbeat and have a person give more insight about the problem. This will not work for every type of ailment, but it could work for some. It would be good for people who can’t get to an office all the time. It would be more ideal to have satellite centers where a person could converse with the doctor via the computer with camera such as assisted living centers, retirement communities etc. or where larger numbers of “house bound” people live.
      Satellites closer to where they live, where a short walk or commute less than a few miles would work.

  3. Pete

    A medical disability needs to be determined by a medical doctor in person with the patient. Even if a qualified nurse goes to visit with the patient. I am not saying anyone would take advantage but the temptation is there. A qualified person should sign off on this. Possibly after that some type of telephone conference could be done but then someone is going to have to furnish the equipment. I think something needs to be done to speed the system up for all disabled people.

  4. martha

    I think that before this can even be considered, making affordable (or free) internet access available to people with disablitlities (particulalrly ) requiring it in group homes and any waiver funded program in which people with disabilities either live or attend a day program, is essential!!!! Having internet access is the equivalent to what having telephone used to be. There is no way that for people without that access can be a full functioning member of the community or get the info needed to make reasonable choices about anything, much less their medical care, without the virtual community integration and community access, and networking the internet provides. So I think that you are really putting the cart before the horse here.

    Before using programs and services (which may be appr0priate and even preferable for some) that require internet access SSI must first figure out how to ensure that thost with disabilities, where ever they live, are entititled to not only free or affordable internet access, but also the hardware (computer, tablet etc) to use it

    My son is in a group home for developmental disabilities. I fought hard for him to have internet access as part of his plan so that he could participate in the community, continue learning on his own, search for jobs, advocate for himself, and make friends, etc. which is how most young people without disabilities now conduct many of their relationships , access services, save money by price shopping, figure out transportation, and just stay connected to the world. every group home I have seen has the highest cable package of TV channels, but no internet!!!!! this makes no sense. For my son, supposedly “living in the community” but really in a congregate care group home that in the way it is run , amounts to just a downsized institution. Going physically to the doctor , is some times the only outside contact he really has.

    By the way, this company (and some others) will not even let the residents chip in and purchase monthly internet service for the house as they would do if they were not disabled and simply living in the community a roomates sharing a house…. so for each of them to puchase a smart phone with unlimited internet access, it would cost them each about $100/month, whereas purchasing highspeed internet in the house which ususually also allows them access to hotspots in the community at no additional charge), would in most groups homes cost each resident no more than $10/month. And provide them with all kinds of other benifits. So my answer is that telemedicine might be a good adjunct to other medical care, particulalrly in the area of mental health services. For people on a fixed income, unless SSI also provides real internet access to all as part of the program, is just another hurdle and inequity in the system.

    • ata

      Agreed, the home should provide the service, not the government or the SSI program. Witness, the effectiveness of the free phone programs.

  5. Marshall

    Way too complex a topic for non-technical and non-medical citizens. I generally support the concept, but think it should it should complement and support clinical medical treatment. High speed internet will be needed for success. Suggest local area clinics with internet service, registered nurses, and capability to obtain and report to doctors normal medical data such as blood oxygen, blood pressure, EKG, EEG, cardio stress tests, basic xrays, etc. Add transportation from the clinics to major hospitals and medical offices for advanced diagnosis and treatment. Might work. SSA should devote more resources to fraud detection, prevention, recovery, and prison sentences for these criminals. SSA disability awards should be carefully screened and some kind of work requirement within the ability of the recipient.

  6. unknown

    Sieg heil
    Big brother.

  7. Cray L.

    Having only read this particular page on this Telemedicine/Telehealth application, my first reaction and comment is: I suspect the majority have little or no idea of exactly what telemedicine/health covers. Asking opinions of its potential end users regarding a little known process, one which encompasses many facets/levels/activities and is dependent upon which organization is using it, is not a good idea. If the coverage of such methods is presented in particular depth and coverage, then perhaps SOME gain may be achieved. Second of all, with the number of patients who regularly attempt to manipulate their health care provider into making a particular diagnosis, or prescribing a particular medicine, telemedicine/health merely offers the opportunity to activate this to a higher level than a face-to face activity with a provider. Expanding low cost telemedicine/health availability primarily to health providers in the interest of education, determination, diagnosis, and treatment, is of extremely high value, particularly in rural, remote, low population and low income areas. Your mileage may vary, my opinion is probably worth just what it costs you, and will have the same value but I think it’s worth saying.

    • ata

      Finally, someone who has hit the nail on the head.

  8. Melanie

    I think it would help a lot for people who are internet savvy and have the right pc/webcams at home. People truly in need might not have these things.
    People in rural areas don’t have internet or computer education. Older people do not know how to use technology. People might not have a DECENT computer that will run the software needed for the medical staff to interact with them.
    I would say it is a great method for people who know how to use technology and are unable to get out of the home. I would love it. It should be a choice but not mandatory, and when people are given the choice their computer readiness and available technology should be evaluated first..

  9. Premlata v.

    The cancer patient, gone thru chemo therapy and radiation do not qualify for disability even though they continue to have side effects of chemo called chemo brain, who cannot remember things, have lost their focus and are over 65 but cannot get a job. If SS can give them disability certificate and they may qualify to get a job to support themselves.

    • ata

      Most over 65 are retired. How in God’s name would a certificate saying you “can not work” help you get a job?

      • Ice

        The information about not covering cancer patients with part B and/or C is not correct. I am wondering where some of you get your info.

      • Chris

        Ata STOP being so rude to people.

  10. Vera a.

    This would be extremely helpful for senior citizens who may have difficulty getting to their doctor or my just need to have a ‘one on one ‘ conversation with their doctor.

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