It’s been six weeks since California passed Bill AB 415. The new law, California Telehealth Advancement Act of 2011 gives providers in California more choice in how to best collaborate on behalf of their patients.
This blog posting will highlight points about the California law and telemedicine:
- The vision of the legislation and how it will make patient care better.
- The limited interpretation of the true potential of the law by many commentators.
- How the inclusion of store and forward technology in the law is important.
The Center of Connected Health Policy offers a focused review of what the law does and does not do. This single page is remarkable for its clarity and brevity.
Obvious, but rarely stated, are three paragraphs expressing a strong vision about telemedicine and telehealth directly quoted from Section 2:
(e) Telehealth is a mode of delivering health care services and public health utilizing information and communication technologies to enable the diagnosis, consultation, treatment, education, care management, and self-management of patients at a distance from health care providers.
(i) Consumers of health care will benefit from telehealth in many ways, including expanded access to providers, faster and more convenient treatment, better continuity of care, reduction of lost work time and travel costs, and the ability to remain with support networks.
(k) Without the assurance of payment and the resolution of legal and policy barriers, the full potential of telehealth will not be realized
Just as a toddler learns basic behaviors such as please and thank you, these three (of ten paragraphs) define the value (and that value will be manifest by ROI) that any health care provider, agency or institution should learn. It is a vision of better access, collaboration and education.
Portions of the law, and many of the commentators view the purpose of telemedicine as providing for the underserved and the rural.
(g) The use of information and telecommunication technologies to deliver health services has the potential to reduce costs, improve quality, change the conditions of practice, and improve access to health care, particularly in rural and other medically underserved areas.
But, a deeper, wider and more comprehensive vision must be developed.
Why? It is never good to be sick. It is never convenient to be sick. It is even more inconvenient to maintain health. Everyone regardless of richness or poorness, high or low IQ, rural or urban deserves coordinated, collaborative care. Care management is equally the right of the CEO as the homeless child. The inner city tenant suffers the same as the rural migrant. The too busy entrepreneur faces the same constraints of place and time as the uninsured food service worker. Unfortunately, each faces the same challenge in receiving the right care, at the right time, from the right (and conferring) care giver. Each of us, all of us, should expect good care and encourage the use of telehealth and telemedicine to get it. When we have it, we have safe, efficient, cost effective and holistic care. That is what we used to have, it is what we need now, and with such good legislation, what we can expect in the future.
There are a lot of lessons in this law. Next we look forward to discussing the immense value of Store and Forward technology. iClickCare is a leading example of this.
A focused review and set of references are here. They are both a starting place and a quick review.