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Friday, August 31, 2012

Telehealth Legislation

"Telehealth" is a mode of delivering health care services while the provider is far from the patient.  According to HHS, telehealth technologies include videoconferencing, store-and-forward imaging, streaming media, and wireless communications.  The California Legislature has passed SB764, a bill to encourage the use of telehealth.  From a bill summary:
Under existing law, the Lanterman Developmental Disabilities Services Act, the State Department of Developmental Services is authorized to contract with regional centers to provide supports and services to individuals with developmental disabilities.
This bill would require each regional center individual program planning team to consider the use of telehealth, as defined, whenever applicable, for the purpose of improving access to intervention and therapeutic services for consumers and family members and for purposes of facilitating better and cost-effective services, as provided. The bill would require the department to implement appropriate vendorization subcodes for telehealth services and programs.
This bill would require the department, by December 1, 2017, to provide to the fiscal and appropriate policy committees of the Legislature specified information that is provided voluntarily by regional centers relating to the provision of telehealth services.
Autism advocate Laura Shumaker explains the need:
Since Matthew’s hospitalization last year, he gets very nervous when he’s not feeling well.
“I think I need to go back to the hospital,” he’ll say. If he were living at home, I could see him, size up the situation and reassure him. So the folks at Camphill, having determined that a trip to the hospital was not necessary, suggested that we Skype each other. At first I thought this was a silly idea. Who do they think I am, Jane Jetson? And who looks good on Skype, anyway? But Matthew’s ability to see me and mine to see him has proved not only to be reassuring, but saves time and money and unnecessary visits to the ER.