The phenomenon of telemedicine has taken the American and international health care systems by storm. Research shows the manifold benefits of this kind of medical advancement, which delivers online diagnosis and treatment of patients via video conferencing and other specialized technologies. From efficiency, to convenience and cost-savings, telemedicine has all the hallmarks of a win-win for both patients and health-care providers.
Particularly when it comes to stroke neurology monitoring care, telemedicine stands out in the state of Massachusetts. In 2012, the Massachusetts General Hospital/Brigham & Women’s Hospital Tele-Stroke network, which continues to operate today, saw impressive results with its 24/7 acute stroke neurology services provided to emergency rooms in 11 counties across the state. This amounted to timely and efficient care for more than 700 patients who may not have otherwise received immediate care due to the many inefficiencies of in-person treatment. A deeper analysis of the Tele-Stroke network’s results in 2012 confirmed its effectiveness in curtailing approximately 400 would-be patient transfers to the state’s university hospitals, saving the Massachusetts health-care system upwards of $2 million. Which state couldn’t benefit from millions in savings?
With positive outcomes like these, some lawmakers are energized to expand telemedicine services in the state. Such is the case with Massachusetts State Senator Jason Lewis, who enacted legislation designed to do just that. Lewis said the law “will ensure parity in insurance coverage for telemedicine services at equivalent payment rates as in-person treatment; streamline the credentialing process for Massachusetts licensed clinicians using telemedicine services within the state; and ensure a uniform and consistent approach when defining telemedicine services.” The legislation has gained widespread support across a broad spectrum of health-care organizations, including the American Heart Association/Stroke Association, AARP Massachusetts, and the Massachusetts Health and Hospital Association, to name a few.
If the results of Massachusetts’ 24-hour Tele-Stroke Network says anything is that more health-care providers (and patients) would do well to get in on it. You’ll be happy you did.