FSMB head: Efficient, interoperable technology necessary for telemedicine success

Current healthcare technology must be more efficient and interoperable for telemedicine to truly become ubiquitous, according to Humayun Chaudhry, president and CEO of the Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB).

Chaudhry (pictured), writing in The Hill's Congress Blog, calls the existing technology infrastructure in the U.S. a barrier to telemedicine progress. "We need compatible, secure technologies that can talk to each other," he says. "In the end, we can't succeed in a smartphone world with a flip-phone infrastructure."

He also touts FSMB's telemedicine use model policy, adopted last spring, which calls for doctors to establish a credible patient-physician relationship to ensure that patients are properly evaluated and treated. The policy, which he stresses is advisory--meaning that state medical boards can adopt them as is, modify them or use their own policies--ignores recommendations from the American Telemedicine Association.

ATA, last year, objected to FSMB's requirement that doctors be licensed in the same state where a patient is located. FSMB, in September, completed drafting an interstate compact to ease physician licensing and open the door for more telemedicine use, a document that the American Medical Association supports.

Chaudhry's commentary comes as the House Energy and Commerce Committee's telehealth working group is pushing forward legislation that would waive Medicare restrictions on telemedicine payments. The draft bill, according to Politico, allows for additional payments from Medicare for telemedicine, provided that certain requirements are met. Health IT Now Coalition Executive Director Joel White criticized the bill's language, expressing disappointment that it relies on state compacts to address licensure issues.

"We know state compacts take a long time to agree to and many states don't sign them," White said in a statement. "So, relying on a compact agreement means some progress in some states for certain beneficiaries, but not others, and only after years of delay. Or worse, it is just as likely that we would never see agreement across states."

To learn more:
- read Chaudhry's post
- check out the Politico article (subscription required)
- here's White's statement