The recent Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) decision to uphold the constitutionality of the individual mandate portion of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) helps support the continuation of the ACA and health payment reform. After the decision was announced, the American Telemedicine Association (ATA) issued a press release regarding the impact this would have on the telemedicine industry and stated the following:
“…today's Supreme Court's decision to uphold the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act will have a positive impact on the development and adoption of telehealth. The ruling will further accelerate the deployment rate for telemedicine, mHealth and other remote healthcare technologies.”
Good news for all involved in telemedicine ventures and businesses, correct?
Well, as my mother used to say as I tried to slip out the door before the cows were fed, “Not so fast.”
While the SCOTUS decision does allow the mandate requiring individuals to obtain health insurance to stand, it is still not completely clear as to whether states will be penalized for not increasing their Medicaid roles by having a loss of federal funding. To that point, several states (Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Florida and South Carolina) have already stated that they will not participate in ACA expansion in their Medicaid population.
Several other states are leaning toward non-participation as well now that the threat of losing federal funds has passed.
I bring up these issues to show that no one decision will have an adverse or positive impact on the development of telemedicine and telehealth. That horse is already out of the barn. Based on the support and progress of telemedicine over the past several years, it is clear that there are many proponents of telemedicine: Patients, physicians, payers, employers and virtually anyone who has some financial burden, logistical problem or other healthcare demand to meet understands the benefits and practicality of telemedicine.
Telemedicine will continue to grow. The pace of growth may now be accelerated with the SCOTUS decision but even if things had gone the other way, telemedicine as a means of delivering health care to patients is here to stay.
Because of that, continued development and integration of telemedicine into more traditional medical delivery settings will continue to evolve. At Consult A Doctor, we are focusing on finalizing our MyPractice 24/7 platform, which allows individual physicians and practices to instantly offer virtual care services to their existing and potentially new patient base. The physician demand for this is overwhelming and is clearly indicative of a corresponding patient demand.
As the dust settles following the SCOTUS decision and the comfort with expanding telemedicine services with advancing technology grows, we can expect that the medical practice, hospital stay and post-hospital services will look remarkably different in the next 20 years than they do today.