Telemedicine Brief Released

The State of Maryland is expanding telemedicine in the state to improve access to care and generate cost savings. According to the Maryland Health Care Commission’s “July 2013 Telemedicine Information Brief”, Governor Martin O’Malley in May signed into law Senate Bill 776 titled “Telemedicine Task Force –Maryland Health Care Commission (MHCC)”. 

The law requires MHCC in conjunction with the Maryland Health Quality and Cost Council to reconvene the 2010 Telemedicine Task Force to update their study and telehealth developments throughout the state.

The law requires the Task Force to:

  • Identify opportunities to use telehealth to improve health status and care delivery in the State. The task force will need to analyze  the needs of underserved population areas, examine applications for cost-effective telehealth, develop      innovative payment models, plus develop innovative service models for use in diverse care settings that include chronic and acute care
  • Perform an analysis of public and private grant funding, emerging technology and standards for security, health professional productivity, resources, and shortages, uses for EHRs and HIEs, and examine the multimedia uses of      products and services for patient engagement, education, and outcomes
  • Identify strategies for telehealth deployment in rural areas of the State and examine the strategies needed to meet the increased demand for healthcare  due to the implementation of ACA
  • Study other topics that MHCC would find helpful in making recommendations  regarding other aspects of telehealth in the State

 

The task force is reconvening July 2013, with an interim report to be submitted to the Governor, Senate Finance Committee, and House Health and Government Operations Committee by January 1, 2014 with a final report due by December 1, 2014.

Legislation also signed into law May 2013, was Senate Bill 798 “Hospitals—Credentialing and Privileging Process—Telemedicine”. This legislation enables a hospital to rely on the credentialing and privileging decisions made by the physician by the distant site hospital

Another piece of legislation passed last year in May 2012 was Senate Bill 776 “Health Insurance—Coverage for Services Delivered through Telemedicine” requires certain insurers, nonprofit health service plans, and HMOs to provide coverage for healthcare services delivered via telemedicine.

There are other developments taking place in the state related to telemedicine. The State now has two value-based reimbursement models emerging in Maryland that use telemedicine. The first model, the State Medical Society (MedChi) plans to use telemedicine in three ACOs by implementing a telemetric call center where nurses and community health workers will monitor data feeds from the homes of their most at-risk patients.

The other model, the Evergreen Health Cooperative, a health insurance cooperative in Baltimore, intends to use telemedicine to foster collaboration and communication among members of their patient-centered care teams. Specialists will be accessible via live video-conferencing from the primary care office.

Retail health clinics including those located in pharmacies and supermarkets are beginning to develop telemedicine programs. The Rite Aid pharmacy chain recently extended its “NowClinic” program in Michigan where patients may consult via video-conferencing with a physician in a private room inside a pharmacy to 58 locations in multiple states that includes Maryland.

The “NowClinic” is now being jointly developed by Rite Aid, American Well, and OptumHealth. Physicians are contracted by OptumHealth to provide services through the program. Today, other national pharmacy chains are exploring similar programs.

Http://mhcc.dhmh.maryland.gov/hit/telemedicine/Documents/telemedicine_updates_brief.pdf presents the complete July 2013 “Telemedicine Information Brief” online.

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