Telemedicine Still Facing Barriers in Many States
Outdated laws and other obstacles have prevented providers from being able to use telemedicine to reach patients to its full potential, but with healthcare reform in full swing, those barriers are slowly disappearing.
This article appears in the May, 2014 issue of Medicine on the Net.
With more than 7 million people signing up for coverage under federal healthcare reform and millions more gaining coverage under Medicaid Expansion, providers now need to reach more rural patients than ever before. But providers and payers in many states are still struggling with outdated laws and other obstacles in their effort to reach patients in remote areas.
But experts say those barriers to care are slowly disappearing as more states pass laws to allow Medicaid to reimburse providers. That effort is also being helped by pilot programs launched by providers and insurers in an effort to improve care and generate savings by allowing rural residents to address health problems before they get worse.
Investing in pilot programs
The Center for Connected Health helps promote the use of telemedicine in the U.S. and advance legislation that makes it easier for payers and providers to take part in programs. Those efforts hinge in large part on what the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) decides to invest in.
"When it comes to being reimbursed for healthcare services, it starts with CMS," said Joseph C. Kvedar, MD, director of the Center for Connected Health. "Most telemedicine is in the pilot phase and not part of any regular reimbursable CPT codes."