Delaware’s New Telemedicine Law Balances Patient Safety and Access Limiting Urgent Care or Emergency Room Visits

Telemedicine is basically the application of technology to provide health care, especially to people in the remote locations. The doctor and the patient can use either a smartphone or a computer to meet outside of the exam room.

Telemedicine seems to be taking over the health sector and improving lives all across the nation. Delaware, for instance, is placed in a better position of becoming the leader in this latest practice in health care. The technology is soon becoming available even to those who cannot afford some of this equipment.

But in reality, telemedicine has been around for quite some time, previously referred to as telehealth. What could be possibly new is the just the fact that doctors now recognize that ordinary patients now have more access to communication devices like computers and smartphones, unlike in the past.

Telemedicine has greatly helped patients with critical health conditions like Parkinson’s, who are impressed by the idea of not having to visit the physicians regularly to have a series of tests. With this new technology, they can now be tracked at home. Autism patients are also not left behind; they can arrange to meet their doctors at a place of their own choosing.

Delaware, under the legislative leadership of Rep. Byron Short and Senator Hall-Long, passed a law in 2015 that created a system seeking to balance the patient’s safety and access. But more importantly, this law created payment congruence for many insurers in Delaware, which implies that there is not a disincentive for medical practitioners to apply it for attending to their patients.

But all is not well, yet. A federal system called Medicare, for instance, is still unable to cover telemedicine in Delaware. A number of employer plans under ERISA, which is another federal law also does not match the law of Delaware by parity paying for the telemedicine services. In fact, quite a number resolve to use direct-to-consumer service, without noticing the gaps they are creating in continuity care.

But despite all that, physicians should continue to embrace telemedicine and not shy away from it.