On Wednesday, legislation was introduced to help rural communities maintain continued access to high-quality health care. The Minnesota Telemedicine Act would allow healthcare providers to continue adopting and implementing technology to deliver high quality patient care in the most accessible and cost effective ways possible.
The Telemedicine Act would clarify the definition of telemedicine to include two-way video conferencing, electronically sending information in real time, and using information and communications technologies that rely on devices worn or used by the patient, among other emerging technologies. The Act would also require insurance plans to treat services using telemedicine technology as they treat face-to-face services, including paying the same rates. Furthermore, the Act ensures clinics or hospitals where the patient is located receive reimbursement for investments in the technology and infrastructure necessary to enable telemedicine consultations.
Telemedicine is one more way to make it easier for rural communities to offer high-quality health care that would otherwise be too expensive to operate. By using real time communication devices, patients can cut down on the long commutes that are often required for face-to-face services. Additionally, telemedicine can reduce the need for transferring patients from smaller rural hospitals to larger ones, saving both the hospital and the patient time and money. In fact, according to American Well, telemedicine can save an average of $140 for each use. If passed, Minnesota would join a list of 22 other states and the District of Columbia that have similar laws. (S.F. 981)