Benefits of Telemedicine
Technology has caused the nation’s healthcare landscape to undergo a dramatic change over the past few decades.
While medical technology has brought upon many positive changes in the delivery of healthcare, one thing that has never changed in the practice of medicine is the private and personal doctor-patient relationship.
Now telehealth technology is addressing this as well. Thanks to the Internet and the benefits of telemedicine, industry professionals such as physicians, mid-levels, dentists, and even nurses are connecting virtually with patients looking for answers. Before today, it was not uncommon for patients to be confused about who they could see about their conditions.
Whether they had mobility issues, transportation problems, or lacked the insurance and funds to go somewhere, many patients can now overcome this obstacle. Now that personal computers and a nationwide broadband network are so common, it is no wonder that many of America’s patients are now searching for advice online.
Senior citizens are especially finding better care options with the benefits of telemedicine. There are about 50 million people living with disabilities in America, and every one of them could greatly benefit from the advantages telemedicine provides. Sadly, such a thing is almost impossible because of the outdated state licensure laws within the system. In other words, the physician wishing to dole out advice to someone living in another state must have a license to practice within that state. These types of rules ironically prevent the very thing that they were created to help: namely, connecting patients with quality, affordable healthcare. These rules were put into place before such technology was even a glimmer of hope. Now it has moved beyond these archaic policies and regulations.
Thankfully there are a few lawmakers in Washington DC who see the problem before them and wish to introduce legislation that will help address the problem of delivering quality healthcare to patients. Some bills that Congress is currently looking at include the Tele-Med Act of 2013, introduced by Reps. Devin Nunes (R-CA) and Frank Pallone (D-NJ). This bill is set up to allow healthcare professionals who are licensed in at least one state to electronically provide care to Medicare patients who live in other states. This is built upon an already successful telemedicine program that is used for veterans and current military personnel. Not only do many people of the military community have improved health care access, but it has reduced the cost as well.
Only a few years ago, we saw the passage of the Service members’ Telemedicine and E-Health Portability Act. This has allowed licensed healthcare professionals to provide military veterans and personnel quality care across state lines without the need of a new medical license for every state in which a patient resides. Not only has this law brought about a huge reduction in the number of hospitalizations for those involved in the program, but there has also been a savings of about $2000 every year for every patient.
Of course the focus for the current bill is on Medicare beneficiaries, but it is also good news for physicians. After all, having the ability to establish a long-term relationship with a patient is part of what being a doctor is all about. Regardless if it’s in an office or online, the more often a doctor can meet with the patient the more likely that patient is to receive quality care over the long-term — one of the great benefits of telemedicine.
By allowing telemedicine to advance, society is going about things in the right way. Now it won’t matter where a patient and the doctor are, as long as they can find some way to come together and solve problems.