No Place Too Far for Telemedicine
SBC Examines how Telehealth Can Help Rural Communities
WASHINGTON – Today, Members of the House Small Business Subcommittees on Agriculture, Energy and Trade and Health and Technology heard from leading pioneers in the telehealth industry. They discussed the current use of telehealth services and how expansion can benefit small businesses and rural communities.
“While twenty percent of Americans live in rural areas, only nine percent of physicians practice there,” said Agriculture, Energy, and Trade Subcommittee Chairman Rod Blum (R-IA). “Telehealth may allow rural physicians to expand their patient base and to keep dollars in the community, benefiting other local small businesses such as retail establishments and restaurants, contributing to the sense of ‘community’ that American small towns pride themselves on.”
“If medical treatment is unavailable on the Samoan Islands, patients, including many VA beneficiaries, generally have to fly nearly 3,000 miles to Hawaii to see a specialist,” said Health and Technology Subcommittee Chairwoman Amata Radewagen (R-AS). “One way to alleviate these physician shortages would be to incorporate the use of telehealth and remote patient monitoring into the offices of physicians and other health care professionals.”
A. Nicole Clowers, Managing Director for Health Care with the United States Government Accountability Office said, “For certain individuals, such as those who live in remote areas or who cannot easily travel long distances, access to health care services can be challenging. Telehealth can provide an alternative to health care provided in person at a physician’s office by providing clinical care remotely through two-way video for services such as psychotherapy or the evaluation and management of conditions.”
“To maintain and improve the economic vitality of rural America it is essential that rural people are kept healthy and that rural communities are supported by a full range of medical services, delivered both in person, and increasingly, by telemedicine,” said Barb Johnston, CEO of HealthLinkNow in Sacramento, California. “Telemedicine has demonstrated its effectiveness over the past 50 years and already benefits rural America by encouraging the recruitment and retention of local physicians and other healthcare providers who can be supported by telemedicine providers.”
“The TelEmergency program has grown to serve more than 20 hospitals and continues to produce outcomes on par with that of our Level 1 trauma center,” said Michael P. Adcock, Executive Director for the Center for Telehealth at the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson, Mississippi. Mississippi officials “extrapolated this data to show the potential savings of over $180 million per year if 20 percent of the diabetics on Mississippi Medicaid participated in this program.”