Nebraska looks to expand telehealth services

In Nebraska, state officials are looking once more to find more ways to expand telehealth, according to The Associated Press.

"We are definitely not at the forefront, but we're not at the rear either," Andrew Whitney, director of telemedicine services at Lincoln, Neb.-based Bryan Health, said of the state's status on telehealth. "Nebraska hasn't been hostile to it. It's just been slow to change."

But one state senator — Merv Riepe (R), a former hospital administrator — is hoping to change that. Sen. Riepe initiated an investigative study that will determine how other states are using telehealth services and what steps Nebraska can take to do the same.

"We need to approach this with a very open mind," Sen. Riepe said, according to the report. "I don't want us to overregulate, but you need to protect the public. And I want to know if we're providing enough incentives for the appropriate use of telehealth services across the state."

Earlier this year, Sen. Riepe also sponsored a law that allows patients to directly pay their physicians for telehealth services instead of utilizing insurance.

Still, a number of providers and systems are making the best of telehealth initiatives. Bryan Health utilizes telehealth services for emergency room, acute care and rural patient admission services, according to Brian Bossard, MD, a Bryan Health physician.

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