AcuteCare Telemedicine Blog

2013 – The Year Telemedicine Breaks Out?

After more than 40 years of development, tweaking and testing, telemedicine appears to be approaching a major break out by joining the mainstream medical establishment to innovate the delivery of medical care in the United States. Considering the banking, entertainment and publishing industries years of success in delivering products and services efficiently to customers through telecommunication technologies, the growth and acceptance of telemedicine has been a long time coming.

According to the American Telemedicine Association, a leading problem is the red tape and top-down regulatory reticence demonstrated by various government agencies. The leading barriers to the deployment of telemedicine in the U.S. have almost all involved government policy: reimbursement by Medicare and Medicaid, state-based standards of care and professional licensing, device regulation and telecommunications policy.

With rising medical care costs, the shortage of medical practitioners and the increasing demand for health care services, the pundits of delay may soon need to get out of the way or risk getting run over.  Last year more than five million Americans received remote evaluations of medical images and more than 10 million patients directly benefited from some form of telemedicine.  Could 2013 be the year to end the bureaucratic procrastination?

The campaign for change has begun as State legislators, Patient Groups, Medical Societies, Private Health Service Payers and Health System Leaders are banding together to promote and accelerate change.  State government will most likely be leading the way towards reforming state funding of telemedicine services and regulations that govern the medical industry.  Sixteen states have already adopted legislation requiring private medical service payers to reimburse for telemedicine and several more states are expected to follow in 2013.

The Federal government can be expected to take some steps towards acceptance and participation but, as is usually the case, Washington will likely move at a much more deliberate pace, taking every opportunity to secure a position of playing catch-up. As the cost benefits and increased availability of specialized medical services through the practice of telemedicine continue to become apparent to many more thousands of patients, the barriers to nationwide innovation of medical services will continue to fall at an increasing rate.

To all those who are blocking the path to progress, it is time to get out of the way and become part of a technological solution.

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