Telemedicine or telehealth is the use of technology to deliver health related services including diagnostic and therapeutic over a distance. This can include something as simple as a phone call or email, but it can also include more complicated equipment that transmits biometric data to a physician from a distance.
Telehealth has great promise to improve access and reduce costs, but there are several important points to keep in mind when considering legislation around telehealth.
- It has great potential to improve your health. It allows you to connect to a doctor remotely, improving access and convenience.
- It also can save money: No overhead costs related to expensive facilities, medical equipment, staff, etc.… Just you and your doctor connected by audio and/or video. However…
- Some bills such as, HB 721 from the 2019-20 session, would mandate that doctors receive the same level of payment as with in-person visits (parity). That means you would be required to pay the same for a telehealth visit as an in-person visit.
- In other words, you’d be paying the same for a visit that has access to all the great staff, equipment and facilities as you would for one that doesn’t. That difference doesn’t improve your health, it simply improves providers’ profits.
- Worse, a whole lot of telehealth visits end with a recommendation of an in-person visit. That’s two visits you’d have to pay for! If price parity were enacted, we could be paying double what we would if telehealth didn’t exist.
Telehealth's use is growing in North Carolina without government mandates or interference. It is working well for patients and is improving all the time.