H.R. 2068: Expansion of Quality or Quantity in Telemedicine in the Rural Trenches of America?

June 16, 2012

Technology changed the practice of medicine enabling telemedicine, the practice of medicine distantly through telecommunication systems. Telemedicine enables citizens living in rural communities throughout the United States to better access healthcare and medical services. House Bill 2068, introduced in April 2009, calls for further expansion of generalized and specialized telemedicine in rural communities for those who qualify for Medicare. In a litigious society, medical practitioners practicing telemedicine must always think of the possibility of lawsuits for medical malpractice. Medical professionals, once licensed, are guided in their work by medical standards of care, which are currently created and regulated by individual states. Since telemedicine is designed to carry the practice of medicine across state borders, there should be clear licensing laws and national standards of care for telemedicine which all medical practitioners can follow. Uniformity in licensing and medical standards of care not only provide a substantive safeguard to the physician so that he or she knows how to act, but will augment the quality of care that a patient receives from his or her practitioner.