Mobile-based remote health care is advancing too quickly for America’s disjointed healthcare system to keep up, according to Calgary Scientific’s Healthcare Blog. In July, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, or CMS, recommended updating doctors’ fee schedules to encompass telehealth services, and found support from major industry groups like the American Medical Association. It would be a very positive step in a system riddled with red tape, and where reimbursement for doctors is often cited as a key barrier to healthcare access.
The domain of telehealth has made huge advances in recent years, and with the mobile revolution currently underway, it’s set to revolutionize healthcare access; mobile apps now allow medical specialists to diagnose patients remotely, and even to manage treatment via realtime communication with patients and local practitioners. And with apps like HealthLoop and Apple’s HealthKit now able to collect patients’ biometric data, more advanced levels of diagnosis can be applied by remote healthcare specialists.
This is a particular benefit to areas like the so-called “stroke belt” along the southeastern US, where stroke mortality is 40 percent higher than it is in the rest of the country largely because the area’s mostly rural population cannot access care fast enough. For some companies, the benefits that telehealth services offer in these areas outweigh the costs enough that they’re forging ahead with updates to their own Current Procedural Terminology codes, which doctors can use to bill for services provided via telehealth. It is hoped that as the practice becomes more widespread and commonplace, local legislatures will be forced to confront the issue with official regulations.