Coverage and reimbursement of telehealth, especially for Medicaid and Medicare, was the topic of choice during a roundtable discussion held recently by the U.S. Senate Special Commission on Aging. During the discussion, government officials and healthcare leaders spoke about the issues facing telemedicine when it comes to the laws and regulations surrounding the technology. Billing, reimbursement and licensure still remain the biggest barriers to expansion of the technology.

According to panelists speaking at U.S. News and World Report’s Hospital of Tomorrow conference in the District of Columbia whose work with the technology range from teleradiology and teleICU to telesurgery and teleoncology the health industry has reached a tipping point for telemedicine to become a standard of practice nationwide.

 Jonathan Linkous, CEO of the American Telemedicine Association, said “In terms of telemedicine adoption and integration policy is extremely important but not nearly as important as it used to be because so much of telemedicine is now going on despite that fact”.

Payment remains a big issue, including related issues like FDA regulation of mobile devices and federal policies dealing with accountable care organizations and their use of telemedicine.

Despite the barriers, patients have had no qualms about embracing the technology.  “Patient acceptance has never been an issue in telemedicine. It clearly is a step in the direction of providing better patient care, and patients recognize that”, Linkous said. Any barriers to acceptance of the tools are typically removed on after patients see the convenience of the services.