New legislation helping to establish telemedicine as a viable health care option

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Providing health care to the elderly is a growing concern as the Baby Boomer generation enters its mid-sixties. Advances in telepresence have made it more possible for doctors to remotely connect with their patients, but there are still barriers in place that prevent a widespread adoption of telemedicine as an alternative to traditional physical assessments. The Hill reported that inter-state licensure laws often prohibit a physician from utilizing his or her medical license across state borders, which restricts the reach of electronic treatment.

How telemedicine can support elder health
The source reported that with this virtual solution, patients will see immediate outcomes from their health care providers. Additionally, it will become simpler for doctors to charge less for their services because the beneficiary will not need to be physically present, which typically incurs an in-office surcharge. Chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart failure and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, are complex and require the patient to be subjected to frequent check ups to monitor the illness. 

For this reason, telemedicine is the preferred solution for such illnesses, reported the source. Its flexibility allows for direct remote monitoring equipment to be installed in a patient's home, mitigating the need for in-person visits for such things as physical assessments and discussions about new or prior diagnoses. Unified communications (UC) equipment, which can include a suite of video and audio tools, can be configured to support the health care requirements of the patient, which in turn will allow the doctor digital access. 

TechNavio reported that as advances in the telemedicine market progress, it is anticipated that the industry will experience a compound annual growth rate of 18.9 percent between 2012 and 2016. The efficient and simple monitoring of patients is one of the major components of this potential increase, along with a closer partnership of industry vendors. Despite these results, health care providers are now facing several roadblocks.

What's preventing the widespread deployment of this solution?
According to The Hill, physicians are required to practice medicine in the state that holds their licenses. Essentially, a doctor with an open practice in one state cannot cross into another state and begin taking on patients without acquiring a new license within the location. These licensure laws are the chief factor contributing to the slow-moving progress of telemedicine. Because a physician will be digitally practicing medicine in another remote location, which can extend beyond state boundaries, questions of legality have established enough of a gray area that  pending legislation is being considered to address this situation.

House Representatives Devin Nunes​ (R-Calif.) and Frank Pallone​ (D-N.J.) are spearheading a bill that will allow physicians who are Medicare providers and granted permission to practice state-by-state to treat Medicare patients electronically. The desire is to establish telemedicine as an agent for positive change in the health care industry, able to reach new patients regardless of age or physical ability.

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