On December 30th, Representative Mike Thompson (D-CA) introduced the “Telehealth Promotion Act of 2012” (H.R. 6719) in the House to promote and expand the application of telehealth under Medicare and other Federal healthcare programs. The Act would fix two existing barriers to telemedicine in federal health programs that apply to reimbursement and physician licensure. The passage of the bill would extend the benefits of telehealth and mHealth to nearly 75 million Americans.
If passed, the restriction on coverage of services provided by a telecommunication system would be removed for:
- Medicare and Medicaid
- Federal employees health, dental, and vision benefits programs
- Department of Veterans Affairs
No small matter either is the ability for providers to be able to be reimbursed for telemedicine visits. (this however will open a whole new entity to audit and prevent fraud and abuse.). It has been shown already that telemedicine visits actually increase clinic visits for questions, follow-up and determination of treatments for problems unable to be handled via a video conference. Perhaps coupled with remote monitoring and/or robotic remote laboratory testing, it may prove to be worthwhile. Nanotechnology applied to quick paper strip chemical testing may be the answer.
Colored water is used to show how liquid wicks along tiny channels formed in paper using a laser, in research to develop a new technology for medical diagnostics and chemical analysis. Silica micro particles were deposited on patterned areas, allowing liquid to diffuse from one end of a channel to the other. (Birck Nanotechnology Center, Purdue University)
Researchers have invented a technique that uses inexpensive paper to make "microfluidic" devices for rapid medical diagnostics and chemical analysis. To demonstrate the new concept, the researchers created paper strips containing arrays of dots dipped in luminol, a chemical that turns fluorescent blue when exposed to blood. Blood was then sprayed on the strips, showing the presence of hemoglobin. (Birck Nanotechnology Center, Purdue University)