The American Telemedicine Association reports an amazing change in regulations: 49 of 50 states now have Medicaid programs that cover telemedicine for low income beneficiaries. (The single outlier? Hint: the smallest state in the nation.)
This report also notes that Missouri is a new member of an exclusive but growing group of states on the cusp of expanding coverage to store and forward Technologies. Store and Forward means non-videoconferencing, but instead communication with pictures and words in an email-timeframe. At this time, Missouri joins New York by specifically including -- and covering -- providers of all types and across the continuum of care.
These legislative trends are at the convergence of several trends that are obliterating the barriers to telemedicine. Modern technology that assists in the everyday care of patients -- telemedicine and telehealth -- is no longer an experimental, conceptual idea. It is no longer about pilots, trials, and demonstration projects. In fact, telemedicine isn't even that cool or new anymore -- it is a mainstream, valuable, everyday tool.
With this change in telemedicine's place in society comes a change in providers, and a change in supporters. No longer is the only telemedicine model that of a central expert "helping" dispersed or lesser-resourced/educated/connected outposts. Now, and especially with store and forward telemedicine, these tools can help all providers support, challenge, educate, and collaborate with each other. And it's a good thing, too. Sometimes the most influential provider in the room is the one with the least number of degrees, but the closest contact with the patient. Sometimes, it is the patients themselves.
Missouri and New York, while pioneers, are enabling what we at ClickCare have been espousing and creating since our early grant days in the 1990s. They are enabling patients' access to care. They are ensuring that everyone, including the patient, should be involved in care at the right time and the right place. And most importantly, they are allowing collaboration to happen -- which means better care for each patient.
So we call for more pioneers to join Missouri and New York in cultivating and enabling access, collaboration, and (don’t forget) education.
Still learning the basics of Hybrid Store-and-Forward® telemedicine? This guide can help: