Illinois state governor, Bruce Rauner, is set to sign a new bill into law that seeks to modernize Illinois’ telemedicine policies after a task force into virtual healthcare has wrapped up its work according to Healthcare Weekly Magazine.
The task force’s main function was to see how to increase access to telemedicine, particularly for rural people and those who live on the outskirts of urban centers in the state. Access to on demand healthcare options remains one of the hottest trends in digital transformation in healthcare.
Lieutenant Governor Evelyn Sanguinetti, a co-chairperson of the task force, had expressed concerns that some residents of Illinois were going without healthcare because of where they live.
The state of Illinois, which has about 1.5 million people living in rural areas or on the outskirts of urban centers, has been lagging behind most states when it comes to telemedicine provision; it is hoped that the new law can manage to close these gaps.
Telemedicine allows patients to receive diagnosis remotely through technological means such as mobile phone apps and the internet.
The state could start working on implementing at least four of the task force’s recommendations: behavioral health transformation, chronic disease management, infrastructure changes and outreach and education. Even so, there is worry that these priority areas do not adequately address the group’s work.
There are concerns that people on Medicaid could continue being left out of some aspects of virtual healthcare provision.
There are also concerns about the differentiation between telepsychiatry and telemedicine, with some saying this distinction should not have been made and will cause some patients to continue missing out on much needed access to health care.
In spite of its shortcomings, advocates of the bill believe it is a step in the right direction for Illinois and will see more patients accessing healthcare.
Illinois’ telemedicine policies were drawn up 10 years ago and there was consensus that they be changed to bring the state in line with other states across the country.