- More states are leading the way in telemedicine improvements. On March 20, Governor John Hickenlooper of Colorado signed a bill into law to expand telehealth services across the state, according to the Denver Business Journal.
Previously, mHealth Intelligence reported on the legislation passing the Colorado House of Representatives and Senate. The governor’s signature was the last piece necessary to push forward the expansion of telehealth services in Colorado.
As of January 1, 2016, the bill removed the population restrictions and removed the in-person care delivery from health benefit plans when telehealth services were applicable. The bill was sponsored by Representatives Perry Buck, R-Windsor, and Joann Ginal, D-Fort Collins. It requires insurance companies to reimburse healthcare providers that offer telehealth services in all counties across Colorado.
The increased reimbursement is partially due to healthcare providers emphasizing the fact that technology-based doctor visits can help patients living in cities manage chronic diseases, cancer-related discussions, and other healthcare needs.
Children’s Hospital Colorado is one institution that is jumping on the bandwagon and incorporating the new telehealth capabilities provided in the law into practice. Dr. Fred Thomas, director of telemedicine at Children’s Hospital, told the news source that he plans to incorporate the law and broaden the hospital’s use of telehealth tools including integrating telemedicine into the youth-diabetes program.
Telehealth services will be able to increase the number of patients that physicians will be able to speak with on a daily basis. This is especially significant for populations living in remote areas and unable to travel to a major hospital.
This healthcare innovation will also lead the way in reducing healthcare costs by allowing doctors the ability to monitor patients more closely while they are in their home setting. This should allow physicians to keep diseases in check and prevent future complications, thereby lowering the costs of treatment.
“It’s a priority to modernize our ability to use all the tools that are available to us. If we have this technology, and we can’t use it, it does no one any good — particularly in a state like Colorado that is so rural,” Ben Price, Executive Director of the Colorado Association of Health Plans, told the Colorado Statesman publication. “We’ve been using telehealth for a while now and with a great deal of success.”
“This could bring folks access to specialists when they used to have to travel to Denver from the far eastern plains of the southwest corner of the state to be seen,” Price continued. “It also greatly enhances our physicians’ ability to do follow-up care. Physicians have said follow-up care is difficult depending on the patient’s ability to travel. This may cut down on the necessity to travel for the follow-up.”
The expansion of telehealth services across the state of Colorado will likely make a large impact on patient access to care and the greater use of health IT tools.