House calls are nothing new in the world of medicine, but what about literal calls to your house?
It’s a burgeoning industry within the healthcare field: “telemedicine.” There’s a school of thought that it can be used to treat minor issues and bring down costs.
And interestingly enough, President Trump appears to be a champion of it. He’s already asked to free up funds for veterans and opioid addicts to get more access to telemedicine. If he continues on this path, it could be one of the first tectonic shifts he makes in lowering the cost of healthcare across the board. That’s something his predecessor never did.
But if you’re not familiar with it, I don’t blame you. It’s not often talked about, and certainly not on the front page of The New York Times or the Wall Street Journal. But maybe it should be.
Telemedicine: What is it?
The name may give it away. Something with telephone lines and medicine.
Simply put, for years doctors have been treating patients remotely. However, with the advent of video chat and file sharing, it’s become easier than ever. Seems obvious, but here is how it works.
Using a video platform patients can connect with a healthcare provider. In some cases that can be a clinical diagnosis. For example, a patient can meet with a doctor, explain/show their symptoms, and the doctor can treat them. If the situation warrants it, that doctor can forward the information to a specialist.
Basically, it’s the remote treatment of a patient. Technology is supposed to make things more efficient and less expensive. But, if you know anything about the world of healthcare, that’s not the case.
However, in telemedicine there may be a chance to find savings for patients.
Let’s take a routine doctor visit. In situations where you haven’t scheduled an appointment, you likely need to use an urgent care center. The cost would be roughly $100-200. You pay whatever percentage of it your insurance does not cover.
However, a telemedicine “appointment” costs almost half of that.
For people living in rural sections of America, this is huge. It saves money and long travel time. Sounds great, right?
As with any new technology, the law hasn’t caught up. One of the biggest barriers is the treatment of patients out of state. The regulation of the medical industry has shackled the wings of telemedicine. But President Trump may make a move yet.
Why would Trump help telemedicine?
Besides the general view that Trump sees himself as “Deregulator-in-chief,” Trump has promoted the use of telemedicine already.
Last year, he declared the opioid epidemic a national emergency. Part of that declaration demanded that telemedicine be expanded for prescriptions and treatment. That’s a pretty solid vote of confidence.
Trump applied the new technology to work on a solution to one of the biggest areas of healthcare concern: the VA. Specifically, the wait times and patient visits for our veterans.
During 2017, Trump expanded telemedicine systems for the VA. Then this year, he coerced Congress into growing the role of telemedicine in the veterans’ healthcare system. Specifically, its a bill that would allow doctors to work with patients across state lines.
These are several clear signs that Trump wants to expand the use of technology in healthcare. He can’t push you to use it. But, following the path he is on, he could remove obstacles to using telemedicine.
That’s where the deregulation of telemedicine may come in. Currently, Medicare and Medicaid allows licensed physicians to work across state lines under certain guidelines. Telemedicine could piggyback on that law. One step removed is one fewer obstacle to getting patients in front of the video chat and savings.
Telemedicine isn’t a cure-all. Serious diagnoses and treatments have to be done in person. There are also questions about the quality of the care — as there are with all new medical technology.
But this is the future. The savings are real for both patients and hospitals. A study done in 2017 looked at savings over 18 years at one California hospital. In addition to saving time, patients’ savings added up to roughly $3 million.
Face it. Washington isn’t serious about reforming health care. That’s why Democrats refer to health insurance as health care. They aren’t synonymous terms. It’s also why health care costs have risen since the ACA went into law. There is no silver bullet. There is no antidote.
There are options to make a gradual shift in the medical field. It will take programs here and there to bring down the costs. Telemedicine can be one that saves you money. It just needs a little push from President Trump.
Article last modified on February 5, 2018. Published by Debt.com, LLC . Mobile users may also access the AMP Version: Will Trump Use Telemedicine to Bring Health Care Costs Down? - AMP.
Article last modified on February 5, 2018. Published by Debt.com, LLC .