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Telemedicine Still Facing Barriers in Many States

Doug Desjardins, May 7, 2014

The report shows that 46 state Medicaid programs currently reimburse providers for some form of medicine using live video. Nine states offer Medicaid reimbursements for providers involved in telemedicine programs using store-and-forward technology.

And 11 states reimburse providers who use remote patient monitoring to care for patients after they're discharged from a hospital or rehab facility. Only two states—Alaska and Minnesota—currently reimburse providers through Medicaid for all three areas.

Bellwether for change
Gutierrez said that, in addition to CMS getting more involved, major providers are leading the way with programs designed to show that telemedicine can improve outcomes and save money.

Kaiser Permanente, which has 9.1 million health plan members and dozens of hospitals and medical centers in eight states, recently launched a program called HouseCalls. The program allows patients to conduct 20-minute physician visits from their homes and is available in Virginia, Maryland, and Washington, D.C.

Kaiser also has teledermatology programs operating in Colorado and California that allow primary care physicians to send high-resolution photos of moles and skin lesions to dermatologists by email, avoiding the need for many patients to schedule unnecessary visits.

"[Kaiser is] a bellwether for what's happening," said Gutierrez. "I think we're going to see more wellness-based systems like Kaiser's because they are value-based and save money in the long run."

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