I have been an advocate of Telehealth and mHealth for a while now, despite my financial limitations and getting Medicare to pay for these services. The healthcare market will be forced to address this cost containment initiative and technology advancement; smart agencies get in front of this. Not every event needs a Doctor to diagnose and treat, especially with Nurse Practitioners receiving advanced training beyond the Bachelor of Science in Nursing to become a true professional and more than just an attending nurse. A Master’s degree or equivalent is a starting point, then experience in a chosen specialty, and state licensures over above the nursing exam (“How Long Does it Take to Become a Nurse Practitioner?,” 2016).
This makes sense to me. As I say on all of these types of stories, Medicare/Medicaid must pay for this to go anywhere.
The linked article below spends time talking about POTUS45’s FCC that is led by Ajit Pai. After his stance on Net Neutrality that is the subject of much controversy, some would question his commitment to an expansion of mHealth to serve everyone, regardless of location in America. Matters are not helped when a distinct beneficiary of the changes he proposes is one of his former employers. This used to be called a conflict of interest; now it is business as usual.
The paper and linked article both cover seven points that the publication aims for:
Promote Effective Policy and Regulatory Solutions That Encourage Broadband Adoption and Promote Health IT
Identify Regulatory Barriers (and Incentives) to the Deployment of RF-Enabled Advanced Health Care Technologies and Devices
Strengthen the Nation’s Telehealth Infrastructure Through the FCC’s Rural Health Care Program and Other Initiatives
Raise Consumer Awareness About the Value Proposition of Broadband in the Health Care Sector and its Potential for Addressing Health Care Disparities
Enable the Development of Broadband-Enabled Health Technologies That are Designed to be Fully Accessible to People With Disabilities
Highlight Effective Telehealth Projects, Broadband-Enabled Health Technologies, and mHealth Applications Across the Country and Abroad—To Identify Lessons Learned, Best Practices, and Regulatory Challenges
Engage a Diverse Array of Traditional and Non-Traditional Stakeholders To Identify Emerging Issues and Opportunities in the Broadband Health Space
(mHealthIntelligence, 2017) & (“2017-09309.pdf,” n.d., pp. 3–9)
All of these initiatives are all meaningful and comprehensive. However, one very important aspect was missing from all of this: No mention on how to pay for this. I searched through the entire document, and nothing came up for either Medicare or Medicaid; Therein lies the problem. The very constituency that is most at risk for mHealth and can derive the most benefit from it have few means of actually paying for it. This is not to say that the underserved and rural populations do not resources, but a glaring omission of this magnitude makes for inept policy. A comment period is posted, so the odds of this being addressed are pretty good.
The dominant medical provider in my market has a Virtual Visit service that is $49, requires a Credit Card, and not covered by Medicare/Medicaid. (“Virtual Visit | 24/7 Online Urgent Care | Carolinas HealthCare System,” n.d.) There is one other important requirement, you must physically be in North Carolina at the time of visit. A reasonable assumption is the system has geofencing capabilities to enforce this. DMCA and other issues arise if using a VPN to spoof locations; have not and will not tempt fate here. The other medical provider has a similar setup and pricing, however, you must already be in their network/system. Either way, the costs remain a barrier, not the technology.
— Herbert Dupree (@MCHerbieD) May 13, 2017
2017-09309.pdf. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2017-05-10/pdf/2017-09309.pdf mHealthIntelligence. (2017, May 11). FCC Seeks Input on Broadband Expansion for mHealth, Telehealth. Retrieved May 13, 2017, from http://mhealthintelligence.com/news/fcc-seeks-input-on-broadband-expansion-for-mhealth-telehealth Virtual Visit | 24/7 Online Urgent Care | Carolinas HealthCare System. (n.d.). Retrieved May 13, 2017, from http://www.carolinashealthcare.org/virtualvisit