Experts Urge US States To Recognise Telemedicine As Reimbursable Service For Game-Changer To Be Sustainable

By @vitthernandez on
Doctors examine patients at a medical centre of the Greek delegation of the Doctors of the World in Athens May 31, 2012. Greece's rundown state hospitals are cutting off vital drugs, limiting non-urgent operations and rationing even basic medical material
IN PHOTO: Doctors examine patients at a medical centre of the Greek delegation of the Doctors of the World in Athens May 31, 2012. Greece's rundown state hospitals are cutting off vital drugs, limiting non-urgent operations and rationing even basic medical materials for exhausted doctors as a combination of economic crisis and political stalemate strangle health funding. With Greece now in its fifth year of deep recession, trapped under Europe's biggest public debt burden and dependent on international help to keep paying its bills, the effects are starting to bite deeply into vital services. Picture taken May 31, 2012. Reuters/Stringer

More American doctors are tapping technology to care for more patients beyond electronics medical records keeping. A growing number of US physicians are using Skype, FaceTime and other messaging or chat services to interact with their patients, substituting for actual clinic check-ups or home visits.

But for this new trend, called Telemedicine, to succeed, medical experts urge US states to recognise it as a reimbursable service for it to become sustainable, reports Clapway. It has been described as a game-changer for the medical profession because while it provides cheaper services to patients who don’t have to travel to clinics or hospitals for a routine consultation or check-up, it also reduces emergency room costs for health providers, while it allows doctors to see more patients.

Distance need not be a major hindrance to treating patients because physicians who are miles away from a local medical centre could treat patients within minutes. Also to be cut with Telemedicine is insurance costs for companies that purchase medical policies for their employees. Tower Watson, a human resources consultancy, estimates savings by these companies at $6 billion annually.

National Monitor reports that regulators are considering taking action against Telemedicine before it becomes the norm in medical practice. The reason being raised is the high risk is said to outweigh the advantages it offers such as convenience for both patients and doctors. Plans include placing regulations around the process.

Other threats to traditional medical practice include the rise of urgent care centres, retail clinics and startup medical firms. These and Telemedicine now have raised concerns among some physicians that long-term cost patients would pay with their health.

To contact the writer, email: vittoriohernandez@yahoo.com

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