During the 2015 and 2016 legislative sessions, one of WSHA’s top priorities was advancing a public policy framework to support the expansion of services delivered via telemedicine. We are grateful for our partnership with the Washington State Medical Association and major insurers, notably Premera and Regence, to get this done.
Telemedicine promises to improve access to health services and lead to improvements in medical care outcomes in a cost-effective way. The usefulness is obvious for rural communities, but the technology can help patients and their caregivers in urban areas as well. My dad has Parkinson’s Disease, and I had the pleasure of visiting Olympic Medical Center and seeing their telemedicine services for people with movement disorders. An expert telemedicine consult would be such a gift for someone with Parkinson’s who otherwise would have to make a long drive and a ferry ride.
A new statewide Telemedicine Collaborative is coming together to chart the future of telemedicine. The application to serve on the collaborative is now available and is due by May 15. We encourage WSHA members and hospital-employed and affiliated clinics and providers to apply.
The Collaborative will focus on reimbursement, access and best practices. It will also recommend whether to create a technical assistance center in Washington. We think exciting work will come out of this group, and we plan to be very engaged in the group and in lobbying in support of its recommendations.
Executive Vice President, WSHA