Remote monitoring, telemedicine, and telehealth are a few of the new opportunities for elder care. But what does that mean for your loved one; further, what does it mean for our own retirement? This week, we explore the future for elder care and ways legislation is being introduced that could change the landscape in this country when it comes to senior health care.
First, let’s take a look at the technology that define these efforts. Mobile medical applications are software programs that are created to function on mobile communication devices, such as smart phones. They serve the same purposes, in many instances, as traditional medical devices. They record important vital statistics on a patient. The biggest difference is these new technological marvels will transmit the information back to a hospital, health agency, or doctor’s office. It’s all linked to the appropriate Medicaid or Medicare office or insurance company.
“Studies have shown that telehealth can improve access, reduce costs and improve the quality of health care,” said Jonathan Linkous, chief executive officer of the American Telemedicine Association. “To unlock this potential, we need to give health providers the ability to use this technology where ever appropriate. ATA supports this legislation because it takes a sensible approach to move aside government restrictions and allow patients access to health services wherever they are located. Instead of going to the doctor, it allows the doctor to go to the patient.”
In some regions of the country, bills have already been signed into law. In July, 2013, Washington DC Mayor Vincent C. Gray signed the Telemedicine Reimbursement Act of 2013. This law requires private health insurers, as well as Medicaid, to cover health care services, even if they’re provided via the new technology. They must also provide the same services that a patient would receive via a traditional office visit. Other states are beginning to follow suit with Missouri taking a more involved approach. As long as the patient’s information is safely transmitted, it can be transmitted via any electronic communications available.
The newest bills allow for:
- Provisions that would allow Medicare home health payments
- Medicare adjustments for home health payments to be used to cover remote patient monitoring.
- Home based video services for home dialysis, homebound Medicare beneficiaries and hospice care.
- Expands telehealth coverage to sole community hospitals regardless of metropolitan status.
- Coverage of telehealth services under Medicare for post-acute care.
- Medicare accountable care organizations to use telehealth like Medicare managed care plans.
Lawmakers are already looking towards advantages that this technology will provide other patient categories, such as those with high risk pregnancies. The goals are always to lower health costs and the new technology could very well cement many of those efforts.
To learn more about elder law and what technology might mean for your family, contact our offices today.