- Today, consumers have a wide variety of technologies to choose from when interacting with the world around them. Many are glued to their iPhones, tablets, or other mobile devices in order to keep up with their jobs, their friends and family, or even general news around the nation. In fact, new mobile devices like smart glasses or smartwatches are making a real impact on the market.
Within the healthcare industry, doctors and nurses are also incorporating mobile devices in everyday use. More importantly, patient engagement remains imperative for medical professionals, as it may be a system for improving health outcomes and the quality of care. As such, new technologies such as telemedicine communications platforms are being adopted to improve the patient-doctor relationship and strengthen patient engagement.
With telemedicine technology expanding access to care among patients residing in isolated areas, it becomes more confounding when certain state telehealth laws restrict use of these communication platforms.
For example, some regulations prohibit doctors and specialists to practice telehealth across state borders. Last month, mHealthIntelligence.com spoke with John Arnold, a Healthcare Regulatory Attorney with the law firm Waller Lansden Dortch & Davis, LLP, to learn whether any legislation is pushing forward telemedicine use past state borders.
When asked whether any legislative changes are pushing telehealth beyond state borders, John Arnold replied, “The Federation of the State Medical Boards has issued model guidelines for regulations governing the use of telemedicine on the physician side. We are moving from a patchwork of state laws to some uniformity and consistency in states that are taking a more progressive approach to telehealth and promoting telehealth as opposed to insulating the medical profession in their state in a protectionism approach.”
As new telehealth legislations push forward telemedicine adoption across the country, it is also important to expand payment parity. Physicians using telemedicine tools and mobile devices need to receive the same reimbursement from health insurers as doctors who conduct in-person visits.
Payment parity is one topic that Dr. Reena Pande, cardiologist and Chief Medical Officer of AbilTo, supports fully, according to mHealthIntelligence.com. With telehealth capable of improving patient engagement, lowering medical costs, and expanding access to care, it is imperative that physicians receive an incentive – equal reimbursement – to practice this method of care.
“Personally as a physician, I support payment parity laws. Telemedicine is an incredible tool that allows many patients to access needed care that might not otherwise be available to them,” Pande told mHealthIntelligence.com. “Not only do payment parity laws make these resources available, but the laws spur innovation and care delivery in the private sector, and open the door for health plans to invest in new technologies.”
With mobile devices and telemedicine use pushing forward patient engagement, it is important for medical professionals to incorporate these tools and improve their communication skills with the patient community. Too many doctors today are still not including the patient in treatment options and care plans.
Previously, mHealthIntelligence.com reported on a webcast detailing some of the challenges that still stand in the way of physicians fully integrating patient engagement in their practice.
“We have been focused on patient education and patient satisfaction. Much of our challenge has been to identify what’s right for treating a person’s disease but we haven’t focused on helping change or prevent disease,” Robert Williams, MD, Director, Deloitte Consulting LLP, stated during the webcast. “We’ve not really engaged them in the past. In many cases, we’ve talked at them.”
As healthcare providers continue to incorporate patient engagement strategies and mobile devices in their medical practice, telemedicine technology use is likely to expand throughout the healthcare continuum.