The days of telehealth being known as a “luxury” service are fast coming to an end. With the advent of Medicare’s Chronic Care Management Program and the AMA commissioning workgroups to develop new telemedicine codes, it’s clear that telehealth is quickly becoming recognized as a necessary tool for all physicians looking to improve patient outcomes and get paid for it as well.
Last week saw two large developments in the telehealth world, as both New York and New Hampshire passed laws validating these services as essential cogs in the care continuum – following Medicare’s lead.
1) New York Defines Telehealth:
New York legislators released an updated mandate for telehealth sure to spur the increased adoption of the technology. The mandate provides three key pieces of information:
- Medical professionals eligible for telemedicine coverage now include nurse practitioners, physicians, dentists, genetic specialists, physician assistants, nurses, social workers, and psychologists.
- Remote patient monitoring can be offered in the patient’s home and Medicaid insurance will cover the costs.
- The state’s official definition of telemedicine:
“The use of electronic information and communication technologies by a health care provider to deliver healthcare services to an insured individual while such individual is located at a site that is different from the site where the health care provider is located.”
2) New Hampshire No longer Requires In-Person Visits:
A similarly impactful law was passed in New Hampshire, as doctors in the state no longer need to see a patient in-person before providing care via videoconferencing tools.
From a patient engagement standpoint, this is tremendous news. In particular, elderly patients referred to a physician can complete the initial consult visit from their homes, allowing them to start the healing process immediately without dealing with travel or scheduling issues.
Through real-time communication, doctors can establish a relationship with their patients by taking all of their prescription drugs into account, transcribing a medical history, making a diagnoses, and creating a treatment plan- without ever meeting face-to-face.
For patients located in rural locations or physically unable to seek treatment, this could be the crucial difference between an improved condition and a lingering medical issue.
We here at Wellbox firmly support the continued campaigning of the necessary and cost-effective services that telehealth provides. While in-office visits are still absolutely necessary for ensuring efficient care, the most important task is fitting the best needs of the patient, and the further expansion of telehealth is certainly one way to accomplish this.
Read more about telehealth here: http://mhealthintelligence.com/news/new-hampshire-law-propels-telemedicine-software-adoption