Feb 14 2017

Despite Progress in Telemedicine, Hurdles Persist

New reports from the American Telemedicine Association describe the landscape as ‘a mix of strides and stagnation.’

While telemedicine’s role in treating patients continues to grow, barriers remain to the ubiquitous use of such platforms, according to the American Telemedicine Association.

A pair of reports published last week by the ATA examine adoption based on coverage and reimbursement policies and state laws and medical board standards. According to the first report, all Medicaid agencies in the U.S. now cover some form of telemedicine, but three locations — Delaware, South Carolina and the District of Columbia — have either lowered coverage or adopted more restrictive policies. Five states — Idaho, Missouri, New York, North Carolina and South Carolina — still do not allow telemedicine visits via cellphone video.

“Our analysis reveals a mix of strides and stagnation in state-based policy despite decades of evidence-based research highlighting positive clinical outcomes and increasing telemedicine utilization,” the ATA says.

No states received an “A” grade for licensure, according to the second report. The ATA also says that healthcare providers often are stifled by “conflicting and sometimes confusing policies from their own colleagues.”

Still, Latoya Thomas, director of the ATA’s State Policy Resource Center, calls the reports’ overall findings promising. “These reports show that insurers, state lawmakers and Medicaid agencies see telemedicine, and other digital health platforms, as affordable and convenient solutions to bridge the provider shortage gap and enhance access to quality healthcare services,” she says in a press release.

Valery Bareta/iStock/ThinkstockPhotos

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