Telemedicine and State Legislation: Moving up and opening doors

Jul 26, 2016 / Telemedicine in the news /
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Providers who adopt telemedicine as part of daily operations see an improvement in patient outcomes as well as an increase in their ability to achieve collaborative patient care. As such, the use and familiarity with telemedicine has increased greatly over the last decade.

As a result, on a monthly basis we hear about new policies or regulations being put in place to make the integration of this technology more efficient and standard. This has been instrumental in closing gaps in the availability of treatment, especially in states where care is limited or inadequate.

 

Moving on up

We found the progress that the American Telemedicine Association reported in one of their recent reports, to be very positive and still positions telemedicine as top of mind for state legislature as we move forward. 

 

State legislatures are paving the way for higher levels of telemedicine integration.State legislatures are paving the way for higher levels of telemedicine integration.

Here are some of the most encouraging examples of recent legislation that the ATA report outlined:

  • Since 2014, 11 states and the District of Columbia have adopted policies that seek to improve coverage and reimbursement of telemedicine services.
  • In the second half of 2015 alone, five states earned exemplary scores under the ATA's evaluation guidelines, suggesting a supportive policy landscape exists that will continue to accommodate telemedicine adoption. 
  • In 48 state Medicaid programs, telemedicine services were explicitly included in coverage plans.
  • In 26 states telemedicine coverage has been included in at least one state employee health plan.
  • In 29 states there are now telemedicine parity laws for private insurance groups. This number is twice as high as it was just four years ago.

As with any and all healthcare initiatives in legislature, things take time, but the progress that has been made for telemedicine year-over-year is huge. Acceptance of the technology as a tool to deliver healthcare is clearly embraced, so now it is just a matter of putting policies in place for those that could or might abuse the "freedom" telemedicine can lend itself to.  We should stand tall and proud to continue down this path.

 

The doors are open

The continued integration of telemedicine into everyday healthcare infrastructure will promote the ubiquity of these services. This is a critical step forward in an industry re-imaging financial paradigms and looking for places to cut costs, as telemedicine can be used to reduce overhead while simultaneously increasing patient volume. By creating a legal framework for ensuring telemedicine services are fully covered under insurance and treatment laws, states have given providers new opportunities to create new financial efficiencies.

 

For patients, the increased use of telemedicine creates all sorts of new treatment options. Rural and remote communities will continue to benefit from increased access to healthcare professionals miles away, while elderly individuals or those living with issues related to mobility need not physically travel to receive high-quality treatment. At the same time, schools, employers and other organizations can adopt telemedicine initiatives to offer students or employees beneficial health services without sacrificing too much time away from the classroom or office. As state legislatures continue to work to integrate telemedicine technology into everyday healthcare, new opportunities will continue to flourish.

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