Streamlining Regulations to fit Reality

In an editorial in Health Affairs, Amy Comstock Rick, CEO of the Parkinson’s Action Network, details the benefits of the Tele-Med Act (HR 3077), a bipartisan measure that would allow Medicare providers to remotely treat patients in other states without first having to obtain licenses in those states.

Telemedicine, the ability to remotely diagnose conditions and deliver care over the Internet and wireless networks, has long since stopped being the subject of Wired articles and become part of the day-to-day working lives of medical providers. For just one example, Neil Martin, Chair of Neurosurgery at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, can examine fMRI images of stroke victims on his iPhone and give life-saving instructions to surgeons in rural hospitals or to his UCLA colleagues while he’s stuck in LA traffic.

Unfortunately, often such consultations can only be conducted within states, because of outmoded licensing requirements. A change in the law is vital to correct imbalances in medical supply and demand, warns Comstock Rick. In Delaware, there are approximately 2,000 people living with Parkinson’s Disease, yet there are no doctors in the state who specialize in its treatment.

Her rallying cry must resonate for anyone concerned with advancing medicine: “The concept of only seeing doctors within your own state lines is an archaic remnant of a former time in America before computers, smartphones, and widespread broadband connectivity.”