US congressman drafts bill for national telehealth access: 4 notes 

Rep. Josh Harder, D-Calif., announced on Oct. 24 that he will introduce legislation to establish new telehealth infrastructure across the U.S. 

Four notes:

1. The Specialty Treatment Access and Referrals Act aims to support patients and physicians located in regions with minimal access to specialist care to virtually connect with physicians in other locations.

2. STAR Act calls for increased use of e-consults and would establish a grant program to help healthcare organizations acquire necessary information-sharing and connectivity infrastructure to support telehealth services.

3. In California specifically, the state's Central Valley region lacks an adequate number of physician specialists who are readily available to see patients for their healthcare needs, according to Mr. Harder's news release.

"It's 2019 – you shouldn't need to drive all the way to the Bay or even Sacramento to see a specialist," said Mr. Harder. "The technology and systems already exist in some places to connect [physicians] and patients, but the Central Valley doesn't have the level of access we need – this bill would fix that problem and lower costs."

4. OCHIN, a national health IT organization, announced on Oct. 24 its support for the legislation, which would help patients in rural and medically underserved areas manage chronic conditions, mental health challenges and other health issues.

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