The Assembly Health Committee has advanced a measure that would improve telehealth services and ensure that doctors can effectively coordinate emergency care for patients when needed. The legislation, A-2193, is the Assembly version of Senator Holly Schepisi’s bill, S-606, which was approved by the Senate Health, Human Services & Senior Citizens Committee in March.
Sen. Holly Schepisi’s legislation to improve telehealth services and ensure that doctors can effectively coordinate emergency care for patients when needed has advanced. (©iStock.com)
“During the pandemic, patients and health care providers alike realized the convenience and efficiency of using telehealth and telemedicine services,” said Schepisi (R-39). “Given the major increase in mental health needs over the past two-and-a-half years, telehealth services have proven to be the fastest access to care for many patients who have found in-office visits to local providers almost impossible to schedule without lengthy waits. This legislation is designed to ensure that all patients receive the same standard of care in emergency situations regardless of whether they are in their doctor’s office or attending their appointment virtually.”
When patients attending an in-office visit require emergency care due to a mental health crisis or physical ailment, providers can easily coordinate with emergency services since the location of the patient is known.
The coordination of emergency services can be more difficult in telehealth settings if the provider does not know the location of the patient.
As amended by the Assembly Health Committee, the legislation requires telehealth providers to make a good-faith effort to identify where a patient will be located during a telehealth appointment, identify contact information for emergency services at the patient’s location, and directly activate and coordinate emergency care when needed.
“Telehealth is an exciting technology that can improve access to health care for many New Jerseyans,” added Schepisi. “As providers gain practical experience using these virtual services, they are helping us identify ways to make them better. Efforts like this will help us to provide telehealth patients with the standard of care they deserve.”