Are There Simple Answers to Telehealth Questions?
The problem is that there are still lots of questions about telehealth. If care is delivered across state lines and the states have different regulations, which rules count? Who's responsible for medical errors and who answers to lawsuits? Who keeps the medical record of the visit? Who's responsible for making sure the medical information is secure? Should insurance companies reimburse virtual visits at the same rate as in-person visits? In fact, do they have to reimburse them at all?
There are other folks who are working to come up with answers to these questions. Lawyers, for example, have drafted contracts that deal with malpractice liability. And more payers are recognizing that care delivered with telemedicine technology is likely just as effective as care delivered in person and definitely more cost-effective than allowing a patient to go without care until his or her condition worsens.
Those who see the potential that remote health has to improve access to healthcare—healthcare leaders, clinicians, professional associations, policy-makers, payers, patients—are all working toward answering these questions. You can read about some of those advocates and the work they're doing to advance telehealth in Does E-Health Stand a Remote Chance? the February HealthLeaders magazine cover story.
It took them a while, but the government managed to come up with a simple and elegant answer to the credentialing question. Surely we can do the same for the rest.
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