03 June 2013
Is Telemedicine Ready for Prime Time?
Maybe, and there are many aspects that will need to come together for this to happen. I do not agree with the optimism of many writers. From some of what I am seeing, the legal profession is sharpening their medical skills be hiring some doctors and legal medical specialists. This tells me that something is brewing on the legal front that may affect many aspects of medicine. No, I do not know what is being planned, but there are many possibilities.
Even the HIPAA rules are being expanded and as of yet there is some confusion. Some are saying telemedicine will be exempt for parts of HIPAA and others are saying don't count on it. One video program that is secure is now on the market and this link will give you information. Now, if we could find doctors that would be available and use it.
One problem that may prevent telemedicine from reaching prime time in 2013, is the number of states that have not approved mandatory private insurance reimbursement for telemedicine care. It is surprising that some of the more rural states have not taken action on this.
Another problem is the physical examination requirement (PER) some states have in place and this may prevent telemedicine from being used in a few states. A lot will depend on how the state laws are written.
Two efforts at the Congressional level may be favorable for telemedicine. One piece of legislation – The Telehealth Promotion Act of 2012 (HR 6719) has been introduced by Rep. Mike Thompson (D-CA 1). The proposed legislation fixes the two existing barriers to telemedicine in federal health programs: reimbursement and physician licensure. By eliminating arbitrary coverage restrictions and simplifying licensure requirements within federal health programs, the bill would extend the benefits of telehealth and mHealth (mobile health) to nearly 75 million Americans.
The second has not been introduced, but an aide to Sen. Tom Udall said the New Mexico Democrat is drafting legislation to create a national physician licensing system to operate in tandem with state boards.
Even if telemedicine does not make prime time this year, it is on the thresh hold to potentially receive a boost and gain some important ground.