PAN Advocate Testifies Before Congress on Telehealth

Delaware State Director Gary Chard testified before the House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee on May 1 about his experience using telehealth.

The Health Subcommittee, chaired by Joseph R. Pitts (R-PA), held the hearing to find out more information about how new technologies and advances in telehealth, also known as telemedicine, can advance efficiency, quality, and access to health care.

In his opening statements, Rep. Pitts said, “We are also looking for ways in which the federal government currently inhibits the use or adoption of such technologies by all players in the health care system – be they insurer, provider, or patient. The more specific and targeted the policy, the greater chance it will hold for congressional support down the line.”

Gary, who was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 2008, spoke about his experience seeing Dr. Ray Dorsey, movement disorder specialist, neurologist and co-director of the Center for Human Experimental Therapeutics at the University of Rochester. Gary sees Dr. Dorsey using video conferencing at a center at the University of Delaware. There are currently no movement disorder specialists in the state of Delaware. The closest one is in Baltimore, more than one hour away.

At the hearing, Gary spoke of the hurdles Dr. Dorsey and the University of Delaware had to go through to set up the telehealth system and how that impacted his care.

“In establishing the telehealth link at the University of Delaware, issues of patient privacy, cross-state licensure, reimbursement, and the always-looming liability immediately came into play,” Gary testified. “It took the interaction of several legal and government channels months of negotiating before allowing Dr. Dorsey, from New York, to speak to me in a doctor-patient relationship in Delaware, leaving me without interaction with a medical specialist for more than 18 months. Why? Because the legal, financial, and licensure channels are so convoluted that it took that long to sort through the terms and conditions in order to allow this exercise to proceed.”

Other witnesses at the hearing included Dr. Rashid Bashshur, executive director for eHealth at the University of Michigan Health System; Dr. Ateev Mehrotra, policy analyst at Rand Corporation; Dr. Tom Beeman, president and CEO of Lancaster General Health; and Kofi Jones, vice president of public affairs at American Well.

PAN is closely following the implications of telehealth on people with Parkinson’s disease and how we can remove the policy hurdles currently in place that limit patients’ access to high quality care.

To learn more about telehealth and specific legislation that PAN supports, visit http://www.parkinsonsaction.org/telemed

To read all written testimony submitted by the witnesses, click here.

Date originally posted: May 2, 2014.