Legislators, Health Advocates Push for Telemedicine Initiatives



Senator Killion’s remarks
Senator Killion’s remarks

Senator Vogel’s remarks
Senator Vogel’s remarks

Senators Tom Killion (R-9) and Elder Vogel Jr. (R-47) today joined legislators and health care advocates at a Harrisburg news conference to outline initiatives aimed at promoting telemedicine in Pennsylvania.

The senators said that telemedicine – the use of medical information exchanged from one site to another via electronic communications – can expand Pennsylvanians’ access to specialized care, save time and costs and improve health care outcomes.

“Telemedicine can be used to connect to a specialists at a distance, deliver life-saving care and provide routine care in a cost-effective manner,” Killion said.  “It is the wave of the future in health care, and something our state should embrace and encourage.”

Killion is sponsoring legislation, Senate Bill 1318, that would allow eligible licensed physicians in one state to treat patients in other states via telemedicine.  Specifically, his bill would permit Pennsylvania to join the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact, which has been spearheaded by the Federation of State Medical Boards.

“Joining the compact would increase medical access to Pennsylvanians in underserved areas, and connect individuals with serious illnesses to specialists in the field,” Killion said.  “The Compact not only makes it easier for physicians to obtain licenses to practice in multiple states but also strengthens public protections by enhancing the ability of states to share investigative and disciplinary information.”

Currently, 16 states have opted into this compact, and 10 others have introduced authorizing legislation.

Vogel is sponsoring legislation that would more clearly define telehealth, provide guidelines for telemedicine, and encourage its use.   He said the ability of patients in rural areas to access specialists may mean travel time and costs saved, as well as a new interaction with a provider.

“Telemedicine can vastly improve the availability of healthcare options for people in rural or urban areas, lower the cost of healthcare, and strengthen the bond between patients and their doctors,” he said.  “With telemedicine, long distances are no longer an impediment to receiving health care services from anywhere in Pennsylvania or across the country. We need to make sure this option is available for all Pennsylvanians.”

Health care advocates also called for advances in telemedicine during the news conference and urged the legislature to move quickly on initiatives to support its use.

“Policy around physician licensing is a century behind schedule, and we need to bring it up to current expectations, recognizing increased consumer demand for health care and improved telehealth technology capabilities,” said Michael Consuelos, MD, senior vice president of clinical integration for The Hospital & Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania’s (HAP). “Health care access is a real issue in Pennsylvania and will only become more of a concern if changes are not made now.”

CONTACT: Michael Stoll – Senator Killion (717) 787-4712
Cheryl Schriner – Senator Vogel (717) 787-3076


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