In what could be a growing trend, Indiana’s Family and Social Services Administration Secretary Mitch Roob announced this week that telemedicine costs will be covered by the State’s Medicaid program starting in May, according to a release.
“The technology is available to perform telemedicine and the medical community is embracing it,” said Roob. “We owe it to our citizens to recognize telemedicine and make it available to our citizens as another way to expand the availability of specialized medical services throughout the state.”
The real-time consultation that is possible can include at least some level of physical examinations, such as skin conditions, retinal exams and heart exams. There is enormous potential to save patients time and considerable travel expense to see specialists that are not readily available in their own communities.
Currently, telemedicine is already being utilized on a limited basis at some Indiana facilities such as between Riley Hospital for Children and St. Mary Hospital in Evansville, as well as between hospitals in the St. Vincent Hospital group.
As for the costs of setting up the technology necessary for telemedicine, Indiana’s Medicaid will cover some of the tab for that as well. These costs will be seen by patients as a fee for using hospital telemedicine facilities, which Medicaid will pay.
“Medicaid will pay for some of the infrastructure that goes into telemedicine,” said Jeanne LaBrecque, director, Office of Medicaid Policy and Planning. “This cost will be offset by not having to pay transportation costs for either the specialist or the patient.”