Telehealth Legal and Ethical Issues
Healthcare had taken a challenge to our federal government when the pandemic’s breakthrough began in the U.S, which expanded the telehealth services. Before COVID19, as a patient myself, I felt the importance of being seen in an in-person or face-to-face visit, not even considering a video visit. Now we are in this current telemedicine world, and what can Telehealth or Telemedicine offer as opposed to in-person visits?
According to Wager et al. (2013), Telemedicine and telehealth have been used interchangeably (p.156). “Telehealth is a digital health solution that connects the patient and clinician through real-time audio and video technology” (AMA, 2020, p.10). Telehealth is an alternative solution for in-person patient care and, in instances, can be used to deliver care of diagnosis and management, education, consultation, and other related fields of health care (AMA, 2020, p.10).
According to AMA (2020), Telehealth benefits shows that with 1) increase in the continuity of care, 2) can connect to clinics beyond the regular hours, 3) decreased travel burden to patients, 4) help providers to address by focusing more on chronic disease management 5) improved productivity, efficiency, and patient wellness, 6) healthcare members provided a higher quality of care with increase patient satisfaction (p.10).
Although telehealth has good benefits, as I mentioned above, there are still challenges and barriers to this technology. According to Wager et al. (2013), significant barriers to Telemedicine are provider acceptance, interstate licensure challenges, privacy, security and confidentiality, and lack of universal reimbursement for Telemedicine (p.59). Improving patient care and maintaining that continuity of care is vital to physician practices to implement Telemedicine in their clinical settings. In reimbursement issues, Telehealth billing rules and regulations changes from time to time, therefore healthcare organization should make sure to stay up to date on the current Physician fee schedule provided by your state. Physician licensing is also one of the significant barriers per AMA (2020), where the physician has to be licensed to that specific state to provide telehealth. Allowing clinicians licensed to practice across state lines will help many patients who happen to be out of state during this pandemic. Due to staying at home order, the patient has limitations in getting care from their primary care physician. Lastly, making sure that being compliant with HIPAA rules and regulations. Protecting patient’s privacy from security breaches is very important in securing PHI.
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