A new state telehealth panel met in Jacksonville Tuesday to begin studying the state of distance medicine in Florida.
The legislature created the 15-member council this year after it couldn’t agree on telehealth regulations, specifically which doctors could use the technology and how they’d be compensated.
Agency for Health Care Administration Secretary Justin Senior, who also serves as the Telehealth Advisory Council chairman, said the first task is mapping out how and where telehealth already happens, including kiosks, hospitals, doctor’s offices and even private residences.
“We’re just trying to understand where practitioners and where facilities are with respect to telemedicine because it is already occurring,” he said.
The council has to publish initial findings by the end of the year, and concrete recommendations are due in a year.
Senior said board members have their work cut out for them. Ideally, they would get doctors, medical supply companies and insurers to agree how to regulate the cost and reimbursement of distance medicine technology, he said.
Then lawmakers must agree how to implement those recommendations. Senior added he doesn’t know how easy that will be.
“It’s impossible for me to predict how a legislature might react to the recommendations,” he said.
That’s because the legislature that will decide won’t be elected until next year. The council will continue meeting monthly.
Reporter Ryan Benk can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, at (904) 358 6319 or on Twitter @RyanMichaelBenk