Medicare Making Changes To Acknowlege Telemedicine's Growing Use

American Medical News: Through teleconferencing technology, doctors are able to treat patients who live far away without access to a specialist. "Nationwide, telemedicine increasingly is being used to bridge gaps in access to care in rural and other medically underserved communities that have a hard time recruiting physicians. … The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services is making changes to promote telemedicine. In June, the agency proposed new policies that would make it easier for hospital officials to credential physicians who provide telemedicine services at their facilities. And in January 2011, CMS will expand Medicaid coverage for remote services, including disease management training for patients with diabetes or kidney disease" (Krupa, 11/22).

Austin American-Statesman: "Tech executives say Austin is positioned to be a player in health care technology, thanks to its deep pool of business software talent that is comfortable working in a startup environment and has expertise in creating products that save companies money. ... So far, a handful of promising venture-backed players have emerged. … All in all, hundreds of computer hardware, software and services companies are competing for a piece of the market, which accelerated in 2009 with the passage of the federal economic stimulus bill, which set aside $19 billion in incentives for health care information technology. By one estimate, the government's push to spur health care computer spending will help drive global health care IT spending to $106 billion by 2014, up from nearly $89 billion this year (Hawkins, 11/21).

The (Newark, N.J.) Star-Ledger: "Under federal health care reform, doctors must convert to an electronic system capable of chronicling each patient visit, tracking their care and sharing that information with hospitals and other doctors by 2015 — or the federal government will withhold some of the money it reimburses them for treating Medicare and Medicaid patients. … But so far, neither the promise of incentive nor threat of punishment is enticing a large number of New Jersey doctors to make the big switch. Only 20 percent of physicians in New Jersey have incorporated electronic medical records into their daily practice, compared to nearly 30 percent nationally, state Health and Senior Services Commissioner Poonam Alaigh said" (Livio, 11/21).

This is part of Kaiser Health News' Daily Report - a summary of health policy coverage from more than 300 news organizations. The full summary of the day's news can be found here and you can sign up for e-mail subscriptions to the Daily Report here. In addition, our staff of reporters and correspondents file original stories each day, which you can find on our home page.