HARRISBURG – The state Senate today approved a measure aimed at promoting telemedicine in Pennsylvania as a way to overcome barriers to quality patient care created by distance and reduce the costs of those services, according to Senator Gene Yaw (R-23), a co-sponsor of the bill.
The bill, Senate Bill 857, establishes guidelines regarding who can provide telemedicine services, and provides clarity regarding insurance company reimbursement for those services.
“Delivering health care services via advanced technologies, such as Skype, and FaceTime would be a huge benefit in rural areas,” Sen. Yaw said. “It enables physicians to treat patients and increase the opportunities for access to care when there aren’t enough providers available.”
The legislation would make substantial changes in the health care industry. Physicians and other health care practitioners delivering telemedicine services would still be required to follow standard state licensure and medical practice laws and requirements in Pennsylvania.
Studies have demonstrated that telemedicine can vastly improve the availability of healthcare options for people in rural or urban areas, lower the cost of healthcare, and strengthen the bond between patients and their doctors. 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 long distances to receive medical care.
The bill is supported by the Hospital and Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania, the Pennsylvania Medical Society and AARP. Senate Bill 857 now goes to the House of Representatives for consideration.
Rita Zielonis, Chief of Staff