Thursday, September 23, 2010

Telemedicine - Where Both Sides Agree

In an era of partisan wrangling over healthcare reform there is one topic which enjoys widespread support across the spectrum of politics: telemedicine. Nowhere is that more evident than at an ATA meeting to be held next Monday September 26 where the current CMS Administrator, Don Berwick and Mark McClellan, the CMS Administrator under former President George Bush will discuss how telemedicine plays an important role in the future of health care delivery. The meeting will occur during the 2010 Summit of the American Telemedicine Association in Baltimore Maryland.

Both Berwick and McClellan have talked frequently since Berwick’s appointment and both individuals support realigning quality and accountability in healthcare delivery. Of course, devotees of telemedicine are waiting for when the rubber hits the road - when real changes will take place in the payment system to support the use of such applications as remote patient monitoring, remote clinical consultations and other forms of health care provided with the use of telecommunications.

Such change is coming fast. CMS will soon announce the formation of the new Center for Medicare Innovation and rules governing Accountable Care Organizations as well as hospital re-admittance policies, both of which will support the use of telemedicine, are now being drafted.

ATA has developed several specific proposed changes in healthcare policies, which do not require legislation and only small changes in current administrative regulations. These will be unveiled next week.

After waiting so long, the future is now coming fast. Stay tuned.