Tips for Successful State Telemedicine Policy Making

Tips for Successful State Policy Making

States are the beacon of innovation for digital health, and there is no sign that things are slowing down.  Governors, legislators, and state officials want to know how they can use telehealth as an economic driver, improve care quality, better coordinate care, control health-related costs, and enhance the health care workforce.  To keep the momentum going, here are some advocacy tips to leverage public policy to accelerate your business and clinical strategies:

DO:

  • Be Persistent!
    After 4 years of unsuccessful attempts, New Jersey became the 34th state to enact a telemedicine parity law.  The parity provisions of the law cover private insurance, state employee health plans, as well as Medicaid.  Other states with similar multi-year efforts to pass telemedicine parity bills include Massachusetts, North Carolina, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.  Telehealth allies in these states continue to champion fair telemedicine parity bills by educating state lawmakers, building coalitions, and fine tuning bill language.

  • Showcase your solution.
    Educating state law makers about is the most effective way to bring awareness to of your telehealth model, when policies are developed.  The range of service needs and care circumstances for telemedicine varies too widely for narrow models and definitions.  The best advocacy strategies highlight quality, safety, security, and cost-effectiveness.

  • Learn from existing best practices.

    • Washington state allows Medicaid beneficiaries to choose the location where they receive telehealth services.  West Virginia encourages their behavioral health providers to use telehealth to allow easier mental health service access for Medicaid beneficiaries.

    • Join the monthly ATA State Policy Webinar every 4th Thursday at 2pm ET.  The webinar series is the premier forum for learning insights and updates about telehealth policy on the state level. The forum is free and open to ATA Members only. Click here to pre-register for the webinar sessions.  Did you miss last month’s state policy webinar?  As an ATA member, you can access archived recordings and slides through our Learning Center.

    • Attend the EDGE 2017 and Lobby Day (Oct 3-4).  Gain invaluable facetime with Members of Congress, fellow innovators, change agents, and disruptors as you work together to shape the future of telemedicine and healthcare delivery.

DON’T:

  • Add more barriers!
    The goal of any good telemedicine policy should be to remove artificial barriers and prevent new barriers.  Creating clinically unnecessary protocols, in-person requirements, and artificial new standards for telehealth without an evidence base can threaten patient access to care and stall business innovation.  Despite policy successes in Texas, telehealth opponents continue to develop obstructive policies targeting patients choosing telehealth, and health services such as rehab therapy and ocular practice.  Use the ATA Toolkits and Model Legislative language as resources.

  • Endorse myopic models and terms!
    Including requirements or references to appointments, rigid technology specs, exclusive providers, or business directories leaves no room for future business, clinical, or technological development.  Broad, inclusive, flexible, and modality neutral concepts of telemedicine and telehealth promote patient choice and health delivery enhancements in our evolving tech age.