The state House has again proposed allowing more medical care to be conducted remotely.
The legislation would create in Missouri law a definition of telehealth services and lay out when a doctor can provide services through video conferencing, or by the electronic transfer of a patient’s medical records and other data. It would also allow for Medicaid reimbursement for those services.
The bill passed the House with only one “no” vote. Representative Kip Kendrick (D- Columbia) said it might be the best bill the House handles this year.
“The gold standard in medical care will always be the in-patient visits, but telehealth services can be used as a great way to extend access to healthcare and also reduce cost of healthcare,” said Kendrick.
Representative Keith Frederick (R-Rolla), a practicing orthopedic surgeon, said telehealth makes it easier for doctors to talk to each other about a diagnosis.
“All of the pertinent information can be gathered into a data file, perhaps with a video of the examination of the patient, and the MRI and all the other pertinent details, the labwork, etcetera, and then that can be presented to the remote consultant,” said Frederick.
The bill’s sponsor, Representative Jay Barnes (R-Jefferson City), said among other things telehealth services could cut down on re-hospitalizations.
“The patient could go home from the hospital, be equipped with a device for a certain period of time where a doctor could have the opportunity to check in with them at home without them having to get in a cab and have Medicaid pay for the cab to get them back to the hospital,” said Barnes.
A similar bill passed out of the House last year but did not reach the full Senate. Barnes said after last session, some in the healthcare community approached him saying that there was nothing in Missouri law to explicitly authorize use of telehealth.
He said the bill also includes provisions meant to protect patients.
“The provider has to be licensed to practice in Missouri, and the second is that they have the same standard of care as a doctor does in a phyisical setting,” said Barnes.
Barnes said 41 other states already have laws or rules defining when a doctor can provide services through video conferencing or share medical records electronically.