- The healthcare industry has aimed to meet a variety of federal and state regulations in order to improve medical care and patient health outcomes. These regulations include meaningful use requirements under the Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive Programs as well as new state policies for implementing telehealth systems. One example comes from the Colorado Medical Board.
The Denver Business Journal reported that the Colorado Medical Board has created guidelines to steer the state toward the passage of a new law that would expand the use of telehealth systems.
The guidelines support both those living in cities and those in rural areas to utilize videoconferencing technology when in need of a physician consult. The medical board’s recommendations do not pose some of the same requirements as other state government’s laws on telemedicine expansion.
First, patients are not mandated to see their physician before using telehealth systems. Also, there are no definitions behind the particular technology necessary for offering telemedicine services. Along with these guidelines, the medical board does not require patients to be located in any particular medical facility when speaking with a doctor via these telehealth systems.
The ERISA Industry Committee, a trade association focused on healthcare benefits, has shown full support of these new guidelines from the Colorado Medical Board. The committee states that these recommendations will lead telehealth systems to expand access to healthcare services as well as lower costs for many patients.
“Colorado took a very forward-looking approach when they developed those rules,” Annette Guarisco Fildes, President and CEO of ERISA Industry Committee, told the news source. “We want employees to have access to telehealth.”
However, one issue that Fildes found was that the new guidelines require physicians and providers of telemedicine services to be licensed within the state of Colorado. This could have a negative impact on telehealth as a whole if doctors and other healthcare providers need to consult with experts from outside of their state.
With more regions across the country experiencing doctor shortages and many patients living in far-off locations lacking the transportation necessary to visit specialists, telehealth systems such as audio and video-based consults offer patients greater access to physician services. Doctors are also able to see more patients in less time with the help of videoconferencing technology.
Often emergency rooms around the country are crowded and unable to manage increasingly high patient loads. However, telehealth systems could be one way patients can speak with their doctor when the office is closed instead of making their way to the emergency care department.
Along with ongoing regulatory changes taking place in the telehealth space, another development making an impact on the healthcare industry comes from the digital medical technology company WellDoc.
Samsung Electronics will be working with WellDoc along with the Ontario Telemedicine Network to create a program in which disease management and lifestyle tracking tools can be incorporated into the treatment protocols of type 2 diabetes, according to a company press release.
“By working with Samsung, WellDoc has an opportunity to make a real impact in bettering the lives of the millions of people that are living with type 2 diabetes each day,” Kevin McRaith, CEO of WellDoc, stated in the press release. “We look forward to collaborating with Samsung on innovative and life-changing programs such as this. Our goal is to improve self-management, which ultimately leads to better outcomes as demonstrated in our clinical trials.”
Mobile health apps and fitness trackers along with wearable devices could also impact the treatment of certain health conditions like cardiovascular disease or diabetes.
“We understand that managing type 2 diabetes is not just about medical treatments but also influenced by one's lifestyle. As mobility and lifestyle become more closely tied than ever, Samsung is committed to develop and simplify mobile healthcare solutions,” Injong Rhee, EVP of Enterprise Business at Samsung Mobile, said in a public statement.