Last week, a New Jersey Senate committee unanimously approved a bill that would regulate the telemedicine industry. The proposed legislation compels payment parity, safeguards the prescribing of addictive medications, and calls for the State Board of Medical Examiners to determine the specific criteria for telemedicine regulation.
Previously, New Jersey has been one of the few states that lacked regulations specifically for telemedicine. The bill in question (S291) seeks to change this by developing a definition for the field including such parameters as who is eligible to participate, which technologies may be used, and how the costs of the services should be covered.
Sen. Joseph Vitale, D-Middlesex, chairman of the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee and one of the bill’s sponsors, explained that telemedicine is “expanding the universe of care for millions of Americans, In New Jersey, we have an opportunity to get this working the right way, in the right manner that benefits patients first and foremost.”
As another sponsor, Sen. Diane Allen (R-Burlington), elaborated: “Telemedicine is especially vital for patients who suffer from chronic illness, seniors who are homebound, and families who live in rural areas where they would have to travel very far to receive medical care…By legalizing telemedicine, we can bring the cost of healthcare down and expand access to a variety of health services for millions of new patients.”
The legislation requires:
- In-person visits before a doctor can write a prescription for potentially addictive medicines
- Telemedicine visits to be reimbursed at the same rate as in-person visits
- The State Board of Medical Examiners to create and adopt the specific regulations for the practice of telemedicine
The bill has been forwarded to the state Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee.
In the meantime, pilot programs are already underway. Across several South Jersey counties, therapists appreciate the security and confidentiality of telemedicine, as well as the reduced spread of infection and decreased travel issues.
We applaud New Jersey for taking steps to embrace telemedicine and provide convenient access to healthcare providers. Telemedicine is already a tested technology; as it becomes more readily accepted throughout across the nation, the demand for secure, reliable, versatile software platforms will only grow. We’re expanding with the industry, and we’re positioning ourselves for the coming boom. Where will you be?
To learn more about the swyMed telemedicine platform, visit us online at http://swymed.com.