Written by Duncan West
Telemedicine is one of the tools which will increase access and decrease cost in healthcare delivery. Currently, direct provider to patient visits over secure video links are only reimbursed when the patient is in a clinic in an officially designated rural area. And then only by certain payers. That model works for followup specialist visits for patients on Orcas or Lopez Islands, or Concrete. What about patients on Guemes, or Shaw; Marblemount, or Lyman, where there are no clinics, and travel is just as time consuming?
MIN-NS is currently working to establish remote telehealth access in the rural areas of the North Sound as part of our HRSA Grant efforts announced last year. Our vision of telehealth includes secure video conferences directly between provider and patient, wherever the patient is, clinic or home, rural or not rural.
A recent article in the Puget Sound Business Journal details an effort in the Washington State Senate to enable payment for direct provider to rural patient telehealth visits.The article cites a successful program by the Franciscan Health System which provides urgent telecare.
Stay tuned to this space as MIN-NS continues to implement secure telehealth and tracks payment and other related telehealth issues.