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Quick summary: Preston Alexander, healthcare consultant, addresses the significance of telehealth advancement, and our healthcare's need to catch up, reimbursement-wise.

Telehealth rollbacks could leave millions without access.

To roll back telehealth rules would negatively impact millions who have now come to rely on it and leave them without the care they need.

With emergency measures still in place due to Covid, doctors are able to treat patients via voice only means of communication and be paid the same if they had seen the patient via video or in person.

Those provision are set to expire and without federal or state legislative intervention. Many rules would snap back to where they have been since 1997.

 

Yes, many telehealth laws date back to the late 90’s, 26 years ago when the internet was barely a thing.

If we look at these laws from a technological advancement perspective it becomes apparent how ludicrous it is not to cover telehealth fully and completely.

Technology has come leaps and bounds since the late nineties.

That a patient needs to be at an originating site to receive care and for the physician to be reimbursed is not only not in the best interest of patients, but completely flies in the face of leveraging technology to provide the best care for patients.

 

That a patient needs to be at an originating site to receive care and for the physician to be reimbursed is not only not in the best interest of patients, but completely flies in the face of leveraging technology to provide the best care… Click To Tweet

 

 

Yet, the US is one country with three realities.

At 3.8 million square miles it is one of the largest countries in the world by land mass.

Larger than China for comparison. 1 in 5 people in the US live in rural areas, which cover 97% of the country.

 

The three realities are:

 

  1. Those who live in rural areas without cellphone, high speed internet coverage, or nearby healthcare facilities/physicians.
  2. Those who live in urban areas who do not have transportation or the means to afford internet access or data plans on expensive cell phones.
  3. Those who have all of the above.

 

We cannot address a significant portion of the population by rolling back the first advancement in telehealth reimbursement and regulations in 2 decades that recognizes both advancements in technology and the real needs of millions of Americans.

It would leave millions without access to the care they need.

 

Telehealth is and needs to be part of a comprehensive and clinically sound healthcare delivery system.

Where doctors are able to treat and manage their patients based on what they (the doctor) decides is right for their patient and clinically appropriate.

If that means a phone call on a Sunday morning, whereby a patient receives the care they need and the doctor is paid for her services, then by all means there should be no issues at all.

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