Health IT

Health IT issues.

GOP Sweep: Opportunity for Fresh Start for Health IT

A Republican Senate will likely favor a voluntary risk framework rooted in an industry-led approach, says Daniel Castro.

In 2013, 1 billion prescriptions, or 58 percent of all prescriptions, were routed electronically.

E-prescribing cuts medical transaction costs by eliminating the need for confirmation phone calls and faxes, and reduces health risks associated with prescription delays. In 2004, over half of states had legislation banning e-prescribing. Read more »

ATA: Telemedicine Meant to Supplement, Not 'Totally Replace' In-person Care

ITIF has called for the creation of national telemedicine guidelines including setting a standard definition and establishing a single, federal licensure for providers.

Congress should establish a single, national license for telehealth providers

To address this challenge and further enhance development of telehealth services, Congress should establish a single, national license for telehealth providers.

Group Urges Congress to Make Telehealth Mandatory

Government Health IT
ITIF issues a call for congressional action to spur expansion of telehealth services.

Telehealth Deployment Is Too Slow, Report Says

Roll Call
Imagine being able to video conference with your doctor without having to leave your home.

Congress should establish a single, national license for telehealth providers.

State licensing boards establish the conditions under which health care providers may practice within their state. In general, states require practitioners to be licensed in the state in which they practice medicine. Before the advent of telehealth, the state where practitioners worked and the state where patients received treatment were almost always the same. However, since telehealth allows practitioners and patients to be located in different locations—a patient in Florida may want to seek treatment from a doctor in New York—this condition is no longer necessarily true. This has raised legal challenges for providers wishing to provide telehealth services as the rules for licensing vary by jurisdiction. In addition, since health care providers cannot practice medicine without a proper license, a telehealth provider would potentially have to obtain a separate license for every state. These legal complexities create a costly and cumbersome process that impairs the widespread adoption of telehealth. To address this challenge and further enhance development of telehealth services, Congress should establish a single, national license for telehealth providers.

Group Pushes Congress to Regulate Telehealth

The Hill
Conflicting federal regulations and state laws have created barriers to effective implementation of telehealth nationally.

Unlocking the Potential of Physician-to-Patient Telehealth Services

May 12, 2014
| Reports

Imagine a world where patients in rural areas far from a nearby doctor can easily find a health care provider to consult with online from the comfort of their own homes; where doctors living in Pennsylvania can help reduce the backlog of patients waiting to see doctors in Mississippi; and where patients can connect to a doctor over the Internet for routine medical purposes with a few clicks of the mouse—like they do when ordering a book on Amazon. Fortunately, this vision could soon become reality, but only if the federal government and the states work quickly to remove regulatory barriers that limit the deployment and adoption of provider-to-patient telehealth capabilities.

 Within the past five years, a combination of advancements in information technology (IT) including electronic health records, low-cost, high-definition video conferencing, remote monitoring devices, mobile devices and networks, and faster and ubiquitous broadband networks, has created an opportunity to leverage telehealth services to improve our national health care system. Health care workers can use telecommunications technology to provide clinical services to patients, to monitor patient health, to consult with other health care providers, and to provide patients access to educational resources. Importantly, the technology has reached the point where, in many situations, health care providers can use IT to offer a comparable quality of clinical health care services remotely as they could in person. For example, the widespread adoption of mobile devices like the iPad and iPhone, as well as the deployment of mobile broadband networks, means that a large number of Americans have access to low-cost, high-quality video conferencing capabilities. While telehealth services will certainly not replace all in-person clinical visits, they have the potential to be an important alternative in many cases, while also saving money and increasing convenience.

However, the regulatory and policy environment has not kept pace with the technology, and several barriers must be overcome before patients and doctors in the United States can fully enjoy the benefits of telehealth. Steps needed include: establishing common standards of care for patients; simplifying inter-state licensing requirements for health care providers; and creating reimbursement policies that support telehealth services. This report describes the new telehealth opportunity, analyzes the benefits from telehealth, examines the barriers to widespread adoption in the United States, and proposes a number of recommendations for government. In particular, policymakers should:

  • Adopt a standard definition for telehealth,
  • Establish a single, national license for telehealth providers,
  • Create technology-neutral insurance payment policies,
  • Promote interoperability among state prescription drug monitoring programs, and
  • Fund research to continually improve the quality and lower the cost of telehealth programs.

Unlocking the Potential of Telehealth

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