AcuteCare Telemedicine Blog


Breaking the Rules

The Georgia Composite Medical Board recently voted against implementing a rule requiring that any patient must be seen by a physician before receiving care from nurses or PAs via telemedicine technologies, a requirement that realistically cannot be met in most non-telemedicine encounters. It was a small but important victory for practitioners and patients alike.

Prior to being voted down, the proposed rule was drawing widespread criticism from proponents of telemedicine, and for good reason. The motivation for suggesting the rule was to ensure that all mid-level providers caring for patients via telemedicine were being properly supervised by doctors who are more familiar with the technologies. Certainly, taking steps to guarantee the quality of care and safety of patients, especially when dealing with new tools and methods, is of utmost importance to everyone involved in the care process. However, the rule would have been damaging to the improved access to care that is a hallmark of telemedicine, placing an additional an unnecessary step between patients who need immediate attention and the care they require.

With the increasing shortage of physicians, not just in Georgia, but nationwide, telemedicine has opened avenues for the delivery of quality care to individuals living in rural and underserved locales where providers simply are not available. As more practitioners educate themselves on the virtues of telehealth, the reach of doctors, nurses, and other healthcare professionals will extend further than ever before.

Telemedicine will ultimately enter our vernacular and be known simply as ‘medicine.’ In the meantime, as our technology and methodology continue to evolve, we must be careful to steer clear of implementing laws such as the redundant rule proposed in Georgia to avoid setting precedents that will preclude telemedicine from playing its role in assisting our healthcare system reach new heights.



Now is the Time

Like any other year, the beginning of 2013 brings a great deal of optimism about what surprising changes and exciting opportunities and a new year will bring, not just to healthcare, but to our everyday lives. We are living in an age of constant innovation and untamed enthusiasm for what is new. Every day, we read news about the pioneering of new solutions for age-old problems and find ourselves astonished by what we can accomplish with the collective knowledge of generations past and a zeal for moving towards the future.

Telemedicine is a prime example of an entire industry fueled by this fervor for innovation, and the resulting advances it has brought to the way we think about healthcare are nothing short of remarkable. Unfortunately, the level of investment in terms of initial costs and putting trust in new technologies has been enough of an obstacle to prevent many facilities to postpone the adoption of telemedicine.

Embracing telemedicine is about far more than flashy new technology and the promise of saving costs; it is about taking steps forward to make our world a better place. For example, the latest tragedy to make national news out of Newtown, CT served as a stark reminder that there are still great strides that need to be made in order to address the needs of individuals with psychiatric conditions. Fortunately, through telepsychiatry programs and the drastic improvements in patient monitoring capabilities afforded by telemedicine, it is easier than ever before to get help. Extending the attention and the care that is so desperately needed in cases such as these will undoubtedly help us prevent many such worst-case scenarios.

It is the hope of AcuteCare Telemedicine and other proponents of telehealth that the plethora of new equipment and methods available to providers will continue to propel healthcare towards an era in which every individual has unhindered access to the care they need. There has never been a more important time to push the many benefits of telemedicine into the spotlight, and take the first steps towards achieving this goal.