Why patient-centered care will naturally move toward telemedicine

In the future, will telemedicine become just as ordinary and common as video chatting a relative or friend who's far away? As care becomes more patient-centered, "Father of Telemedicine" Jay Sanders, M.D., believes that will be the case.

Sanders, former president of the American Telemedicine Association, in an interview with EHRIntelligence, said that not only will telemedicine change the way patients and doctors connect, it also will revolutionize they way clinicians interact with patients, in general.

"What the present technology affords the physician is an ability to better evaluate their patient in the patient setting, not in the doctor setting," Sanders said, pointing out that, for example, taking a patient's blood pressure in a doctor's office doesn't make sense. Rather, he said, it should be taken at the patient's home or at work.

And it goes way beyond reaching patients in rural areas, Sanders said. "What we have come to learn, in the same way that we universally use our smartphones wherever we are, that this technology not only has a need, but a very clear practical application throughout the socioeconomic, geographic spectrum of our society," he said.

With regard to the "patchwork" of state regulations and licensing rules preventing telemedicine growth, Sanders said that telemedicine has "shined a light" on the need to reform old-fashioned laws and regulations that prevent doctors from practicing in multiple states.

In the future, he said, he hopes the idea of the exam room being where a patient lives and works will be understood worldwide.

A bill introduced to Congress in December--the Telehealth Modernization Act--seeks to establish a federal definition of telehealth and clear up the confusion from myriad state policies.

That same month, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services announced that changes to Medicare's 2014 physician fee schedule would incrementally expand coverage for telehealth services.

A call for common language is needed, too; a recent study published in Telemedicine and e-Health explores seven unique definitions of telehealth in current use across the U.S. government.

To learn more:
- read the full interview at EHRIntelligence