Telehealth, defined as “the use of technology to deliver health care, health information, or health education at a distance,” is getting extra backing from government agencies and medical insurance in 2015. Medicare announced that it will start reimbursing physicians for chronic care management while other supportive laws are passed all over the country.
State legislatures across the U.S. are also expanding payment authorization for telehealth and mobile health services with more than 20 states allowing private insurance to reimburse telehealth services. And one by one, more states are joining this group. Legislation and insurance coverage varies by state, but you can find more information from the NCSL.
Medicare will be authorizing payment for real-time video and audio physician appointments, but several states, including Tennessee and Alabama, have included mobile health in that definition. Mobile health is also called mHealth and it means the medical practice supported by mobile devices. It is most popular in treating patients in rural areas but is gaining popularity in a variety of settings.
So far, eight states have issued regulations on establishing a physician-patient relationship via technology. Leaders in Congress, insurance companies, employers, and patients from every corner of the country are backing the telehealth movement. States that have adopted telehealth legislature and mandated insurance coverage have seen that it is a cost-effective alternative to in-person medical consultations.
These efforts are supported by the American Medical Association and the Federation of State Medical Boards. These organizations have been championing policies that would streamline the process. The most important thing is that the quality of care does not suffer in its transition to the internet. So far, all signs point to telehealth being a more effective and cost-effective method of patient care in many cases.