Telemedicine in the TIME Swampland

click to enlargeTIME’s ‘Swampland’ section may be referring to the original siting of Washington, DC on reclaimed swamp land off the Potomac River, but this swampy article ultimately struggles to solid land. You will have to meander through the UVA Center for Telehealth, the Center for Connected Health Policy, WellPoint, the Institute for e-Health Policy and of course Partners Healthcare’s cardiac program [TTA 27 Aug] before addressing the real problem: the desirability of broader telemedicine reimbursement and a consistent policy in US Federal programs such as Medicare and Federally-subsidized Medicaid administered through the states. Currently Medicare reimbursement is restricted to specific rural areas, Native American territories/Indian Health Service, and of course the often-mentioned mess of cross-state physician licensing. However, the Accountable Care Act is not going to be the savior as its implementation is hardly going smoothly. Earlier CMS policies on 30-day same cause readmissions have had far more impact. There is the to-be-expected muddling of telemedicine (virtual consults) and telehealth (monitoring)–and robotics gets a ‘say wot?’ mention. The kicker is the headline and accompanying picture:

“Saving U.S. Health Care With Skype”

Skype, while used in ‘telemental health’ [TTA 11 May], is not HIPAA-compliant for patient privacy.  Were TIME’s famed fact-checkers asleep? 

Hat tip (and thanks) to reader Bob Pyke.

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