March 4, 2014

More Efficient Use of Telemedicine

Dr. Robert Kocher wrote a blog on TheHealth Care Blog site and he explains the need for doctors to be able to practice across state borders. He states that federal standards govern medical training and testing, but the individual states each have their own licensing board, often referred to as a state medical board. The reason he is using is to promote telemedicine, which has had its good on display, but many detractors and many doctors in opposition because they do not want to have telemedicine in their backyard.

I agree with Dr. Kocher, but think he is banging head against the wall. The American Medical Association and many state medical boards are busy lobbying against telemedicine. Until there is more public demand and state legislatures start deciding that telemedicine is needed for their state and pass legislation, I doubt this will happen. In addition most state medical boards do not recognize license reciprocity and want the revenue they can receive.

Now this is only my opinion, but I think many doctors want telemedicine to succeed. I also think until more states adopt in state telemedicine, a national call will not succeed.  The example that I can think of is what has happened in the state of Kansas. The University of Kansas Center for Telemedicine & Telehealth (KUCTT) is a recognized world leader in telehealth services and research. KUCTT is part of the KU Medical Center. The following is from the KUCTT.

Beginning in 1991 with a single connection to a community in western Kansas, the Kansas telehealth network now has more than 100 sites throughout the state. KU Center for Telemedicine and Telehealth has conducted thousands of clinical consultations for Kansans and hosted hundreds of educational events for health professionals, teachers, students and the public across the network.

KU Center for Telemedicine and Telehealth has been an integral piece of several national and international collaborations that have demonstrated the potential of telehealth to eliminate distance as a barrier to healthcare. With more than 24,000 clinical consultations and educational events, KU Center for Telemedicine and Telehealth is one of the oldest and most successful telehealth programs in the world.”

If other states would use this as a model for their state, then telemedicine would be given a big boost and possibly be ready to take on national importance and then legislatures or Congress might consider new licensing to be able to operate across state borders.

Think of the importance this could have for those of us with diabetes in our own state. What happens when the weather is like this winter when travel is often impossible and blizzard warnings are issued. A medical appointment is probably missed and important information can be withheld from you and the doctor. If telemedicine was available, the appointment might not be a total loss if you had a local doctor on the network that could do the necessary tests or a local hospital where the tests could be done.

I can only hope that more people will consider the suggestion and make telemedicine available to more without having to cross state borders. Then the doors may open for telemedicine nationally.

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