WASHINGTON (May 12, 2014) - A wide range of technologies, from cloud computing to mobile devices to high-definition, streaming video, are making it easier than ever to connect doctors and patients through online encounters that are often on par with in-person visits, with lower costs and greater convenience for patients and doctors. Unfortunately, while the technology to deliver physician-to-patient telehealth services is available today, adoption remains relatively low because of a variety of policy barriers.
To assess how policymakers can help overcome these roadblocks and expand the benefits of telehealth to all Americans, the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF), has released Unlocking the Potential of Physician-to-Patient Telehealth Services. The report provides a rich overview of the various benefits of telehealth services, while also offering a series of policy recommendations designed reduce current barriers to adoption.
"The only thing holding back telehealth right now is outdated rules and regulations," says Daniel Castro, senior policy analyst with ITIF and co-author of the report. "Given the high cost of care and lack of access to doctors in many parts of the country, it's imperative that policymakers clear the remaining roadblocks to widespread adoption.
Currently, telehealth implementation is hampered by standards of care requirements that often do not provide guidelines for telehealth delivery, the wide variety and complexity of state licensing requirements for health care providers, and the lack of specific reimbursement policies for telehealth services. To address this environment, the report proposes a series of reforms including: adoption of a standard definition for telehealth, establishment of a single, national license for telehealth providers and creation of technology-neutral insurance payment policies.
"As new demands are placed on our health care system, policymakers need to be actively working to leverage telehealth to lower costs, increase access, and improve quality of care," Castro adds. "This report offers a road map to accomplish this goal and improve health care services for millions of Americans."
Read the report.
The Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF) is a non-profit, non-partisan think tank whose mission is to formulate and promote public policies to advance technological innovation and productivity internationally, in Washington, and in the states. Recognizing the vital role of technology in ensuring prosperity, ITIF focuses on innovation, productivity, and digital economy issues. Learn more at www.itif.org.