In this difficult economic climate, when many people are concerned about access to timely, quality care, telemedicine offers real promise. Patients coping with costly chronic diseases, life-threatening stokes, or expensive intensive care unit stays know the positive impact of telemedicine. Home monitoring via telemedicine reduces hospital visits by as much as 50 percent keeping patients stable through daily monitoring. Telemedicine-supported Intensive Care Units reduce mortality rates by 15-30 percent and substantially decrease complications and length of stay. Timely treatments that effectively reverse the consequences of a stroke have risen from 15 percent to 85 percent due to the availability of telestroke programmes.
"Telemedicine will fundamentally change the way in which we provide and receive health care", stated Christine Martin, Executive Director of the California Telemedicine and eHealth Center (CTEC). "It is an extraordinary tool that improves health care access, quality, and efficiency in new and cost effective ways."
The promise and the potential of telemedicine in California's health care system is addressed in a policy brief, "Optimizing Telehealth In California: An Agenda for Today and Tomorrow" released by the California Telemedicine and eHealth Center (CTEC).
The brief is organized around two broad recommendations and 37 action steps, and addresses how California can expand the availability of telemedicine and reach full optimization of this remarkable technology. Specifically, the brief recommends that telemedicine should be developed and implemented in every situation where patient care, access, provider availability, or cost of service can be positively impacted. The brief also recommends that telemedicine should be a covered and reimbursable method for the delivery of services across the entire spectrum of health care services.
CTEC collaborated with a variety of stakeholders to develop the policy brief. The brief contains recommendations that reflect the broad needs, concerns, and experiences of many experts, thought leaders, policy makers, health advocates, consumers, and health systems. These recommendations, when implemented, will transform California's use, funding and support of telemedicine.
CTEC is a source of expertise and comprehensive knowledge on the development and operation of telemedicine and telehealth programmes. CTEC has received national recognition as one of six federally designated Telehealth Resource Centers around the United States. For a copy of the policy brief you can visit the CTEC website.