What is the Illinois Telehealth Initiative?
The Illinois Telehealth Initiative is a project of the Partnership for a Connected Illinois (PCI), an Illinois nonprofit organization that seeks to advance the use of broadband in the state. Telehealth is a method of healthcare service delivery, which allows patients and providers to connect via technology (i.e., interactive audio/video systems) rather than in person.
Telehealth allows physicians to care for underserved communities by providing access to healthcare and improving quality of care by:
- Removing the burden of distance between the providers and patient,
- Maximizing efficiency of provider time, thereby, allowing more patients to be served, and,
- Creating opportunities for providers to monitor a patient’s condition.
States around the country have embraced telehealth as a way to improve access to and the quality of healthcare, while reducing costs. Some states are seizing the opportunity to develop innovative telehealth programs. Others are addressing barriers to telehealth--reimbursement by payers and licensing. This push is timelier than ever due to a projected shortage of 130,000 physicians in the next ten years, an increase of about 32 million insured, and an aging population seeking more frequent care. Bi-partisan national organizations have been created to work to reduce the regulatory burdens on telehealth.1
The Illinois Telehealth Challenge
Illinois is one of the few states in the country that has not yet embraced telehealth. With few exceptions, Illinois has not encouraged policies that support the use of telehealth to achieve these goals.2 Consequently, Illinois has few telehealth programs.
To meet the challenge, the Partnership for a Connected Illinois, under the guidance of supporters, launched the Illinois Telehealth Initiative. PCI engaged telehealth expert Nancy Kaszak, to lead the initiative. PCI has also worked with the following in this effort:
- Nina Antoniotti, Executive Director for Telehealth & Outreach, SIU School of Medicine
- Metropolitan Chicago Healthcare Council (MCHC)
- The telehealth start-up companies located at MATTER, Illinois’ health innovation hub
Identifying civic, nonprofit, and corporate leaders who can encourage stakeholders to participate in the process of leading the advancement of telehealth.
2. “State Telemedicine Gaps Analysis,” American Telemedicine Association, September 2014; “State Telehealth Policies and Reimbursement Schedules” Center for Connected Health Policy, The National Telehealth Policy Resource Center, September 2014.
Illinois Telehealth Initiative featured on TechAccessTV
Host Bruce Montgomery interviews Broadband Illinois Deputy Director Laura Lane and Telehealth Consultant Nancy Kaszak about the importance of telehealth and the Illinois Telehealth Initiative.
Aired: March 20, 2015