"California payers and providers have been much quicker to embrace telemedicine in order to reach rural patients," said Margaret Laws, director of the Innovations for the Under-Served program at the California HealthCare Foundation. "And it's been at the forefront
in terms of adopting legislation that makes creating new telemedicine programs easier."
The state has more than a half-dozen telemedicine programs including pilot programs for dentistry, dermatology, and eye care. Other more ambitious pilots include a tele-ICU program established by John Muir Health and a pediatric ICU program being headed by the UC Davis Health System.
But even California is falling short in some areas.
"One thing California has not done yet is create policies that would allow for remote patient monitoring programs to reimbursed," said Mario Gutierrez, executive director for the Center for Connected Health Policy (CCHP). "With a few exceptions, just about every state is lagging in some areas."
To help providers keep up with what's happening in telemedicine across the U.S., the CCHP created the State Telehealth Laws and Reimbursement Policies,a section of its website that provides a comprehensive scan of telemedicine laws with a state-by-state breakdown.
"Some states have incorporated policies into law, while others have addressed issues such as definition, reimbursement policies, licensure requirements, and other important issues in their Medicaid Program Guidelines," Gutierrez said in his introduction to the latest report released in February 2014.