Thursday, July 9, 2015

Standing Between You And All The Benefits Of Telemedicine: The AMA And The Federal Government

From John C. Goodman in Forbes. Excerpt:
"Patients get access to the best that Mayo has to offer without ever having to go there."
"So who could be against this? The American Medical Association for one. The federal government for another. The official position of the AMA is that doctors must be physically present with a patient in order to deliver appropriate care. And this is not a small issue with organized medicine. I previously reported on efforts by the Texas Medical Association (TMA) to outlaw the activities of Teladoc – a firm that provides medical consultation by phone to nearly 11 million patients every year."

"Suppose you are traveling and you need to have a prescription refilled. A call to Teladoc puts you in touch with a doctor (usually within 30 minutes) who has access to you electronic medical records and can meet your request. The TMA claims that in opposing this practice it is only concerned with the welfare of the patient. But this is pure hypocrisy.

The same organization that thinks you shouldn’t be able to get a prescription from a Teladoc doctor you have never met, thinks it’s perfectly okay for you to get a prescription from an “on call” doctor who you have also never met, who is subbing in for your regular doctor and who probably isn’t looking at your medical records when he orders the prescription.
As I wrote previously:
Why is one okay and not the other? The only difference I can see is economic. On call doctors add to total health care spending. They increase revenue for doctors as a whole. Teladoc, on the other hand, is challenging orthodoxy. It threatens to lower the cost of care and reduce overall doctor incomes.
Today, as in the past, organized medicine acts as a cartel agent for the doctors.
Another opponent is Medicare. In general, the federal government won’t pay for telemedicine except under special circumstances. As Glen Stubbe explains:
Medicare currently reimburses only for a limited number of telehealth services and then only when patients receiving it live in an officially defined “Health Professional Shortage Area” or a county outside of a Metropolitan Statistical Area. The treatment also has to take place in a medical facility. Medicare will not pay if it takes place in a patient’s home."

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