Legal Concerns May Limit Implementation of Telemedicine

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Telemedicine Represents Enhanced Care Model
Telemedicine Represents Enhanced Care Model

(HealthDay News) -- Telemedicine may represent an effective care model but there are associated concerns, specifically relating to reimbursement and legal issues, according to an article published Oct. 25 in Medical Economics.

Chris Mazzolini discusses the implementation of telemedicine by health providers, and the legal issues relating to its use. The term telemedicine is used to describe live video appointments, real-time remote patient monitoring, storing and forwarding of diagnostic images, and use of mobile applications.

According to the report, telemedicine was initially used to connect rural primary care physicians with specialists, but is now considered an enhancer for physicians, which utilizes the benefit of technology to provide better health care and reach more patients. Telemedicine is now used for follow-up appointments, and could be used for proactive population management. Telemedicine can also help with transfer of care and can help keep costs down while improving patient outcomes. Some states provide reimbursement for telemedicine visits, but policies vary widely.

Other barriers to its implementation include concerns relating to effectiveness and malpractice issues, as well as legislative and licensing issues. Legal issues include physician licensing, malpractice liability, online prescribing, informed consent, and credentials and privileging.

"Population management is about meeting patients where they are," Seth Eaton, M.D., from MedPeds in Laurel, Md., told Medical Economics. "That's the game changer that telemedicine provides."

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