Mayo Clinic's Dr. John Noseworthy pushes for telemedicine reform in op-ed

Telemedicine has a demonstrated track record for improving access to care and lowering the cost of care, but the federal government significantly lags behind states when it comes to telemedicine policy, wrote John Noseworthy, MD, president and CEO of Rochester, Minn.-based Mayo Clinic in an op-ed for the Pioneer Press.

Dr. Noseworthy wrote that the utilization of telemedicine has not kept pace with the capabilities of this technology because of regulatory barriers, and states have been more active in advancing such policies than the federal government.

For example, Minnesota passed two laws last year to support the use of telemedicine: a parity law requiring telemedicine services to be reimbursed the same as other healthcare services, and a law permitting Minnesota physicians to obtain medical licenses in other states.

"Laws such as the ones passed in Minnesota will help increase access to specialty treatment for patients no matter where they live and work," Dr. Noseworthy wrote. "Despite these gains at the state level, there has been less progress at the federal level."

Dr. Noseworthy mentions a research letter published in JAMA in May that reports less than 1 percent of Medicare beneficiaries living in rural areas received a telemedicine visit in 2013.

"Failure to update the telemedicine regulations contradicts the growing evidence that telemedicine increases patients' access to healthcare and reduces overall healthcare spending for the government," he wrote. "We are grateful to the Minnesota Legislature for championing telemedicine. We call on policymakers and other healthcare providers to join us in continuing to educate and advocate for the increase the use of this critical technology that has the power to transform the future of healthcare."

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