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Expanding telemedicine reduces costs, improves access to care

Statewide expansion of telemedicine could save Florida more than $1 billion annually, according to a report from Florida TaxWatch, the independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit public policy research institute and government watchdog. The report, Critical Connections to Care, highlights the importance of removing barriers and including incentives for encouraging the use of telemedicine through the creation of a solid policy foundation.

Telemedicine is the practice of exchanging medical information from one site to another through electronic communications. Implementing telemedicine in Florida would expand access to high-quality care, treatment, education and services for patients and providers.

"The opportunity costs of not investing in telemedicine are too high for the state of Florida and its taxpayers," said Dominic Calabro, president and CEO of Florida TaxWatch. "Florida needs to expand telemedicine to not only improve health care outcomes, but to provide care at a lower cost to Floridians."

Telemedicine expansion can significantly reduce costs for the state. If timely health care provided through telemedicine could avoid just one percent of costly medical interventions, such as emergency room visits, Florida could save more than $1 billion annually.

Currently, the lack of private reimbursement requirements and Medicaid payment limitations leave many health entities responsible for the cost, which disincentivizes the use of telemedicine. While many providers, including several major Florida health care entities, have invested in telemedicine, there is no connected statewide network to facilitate its use throughout the state.

Florida Tax WatchThe report also highlights the unique challenges that Florida's rapidly changing demographics and geographic diversity create for providing access to quality care. Telemedicine can improve access quality to care for Floridians across the state, while providing significant long-term cost savings.  

"Florida has the opportunity to create a sustainable system for the state's changing long-term health needs," said Tamara Y. Demko, J.D., MPH, Director of the TaxWatch Center for Health & Aging. "By laying the groundwork for telemedicine expansion in Florida, we are taking a critical step to ensuring that the growing health care needs of Florida's diverse population can be met."

View the report online here (PDF)