"Working on interstate licensing agreements and compacts is another long-term sustainable solution to ensure that telehealth remains robust and viable for both our patients and our practices," says Kevin Koo, MD, MPH.
In this video, Kevin Koo, MD, MPH, discusses the expansion of telehealth benefits, one of the key legislative priorities of the 2023 AUA Summit, which took place in Washington DC. Koo is a urologist at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota and on the Board of Directors for the American Urological Association Political Action Committee (AUAPAC).
At the Summit, we spoke to our legislators and urged them to allow for the permanent expansion of telehealth benefits. What that means is a number of things. One, allowing there to be payment parity and reimbursement for telehealth visits and audio-only visits just as well as in-person visits. This is important because sometimes patients don't have the internet broadband access to do video. Sometimes we have to convert those visits to audio-only visits. It doesn't mean that the visit is any less quality or any less efficient. It does mean that we want to make sure that's an option that's available for patients.
We were also advocating for the elimination of burdensome originating site requirements. What that means is that previously, patients needed to go to specific sites like hospitals or designated clinics, and then jump on to telehealth from there and only then could telehealth be covered and considered a viable option. Well, we now know that the whole point of telehealth is to reach patients where they are, whether they're in their office, or whether they're at home, wherever they may be. I've had some patients where my patients live on farms, and they may be in the farmhouse connecting with me. But that's most convenient for them, and we're often able to have a very productive visit connecting with them there. Eliminating those originating site requirements is really important as well to ensure that our patients can connect with us and not have to go the extra step to another place to connect, which itself could be a burden for travel and time and cost.
Finally, we spoke to our legislators about interstate licensure. What we found is that as we have continued through telehealth, many of the licensing waivers that have been in place that have supported us being able to reach out to patients not only in our own states, but surrounding states and even across the country, some of those waivers will come to an end. It'll become very challenging for urologists in our practices to maintain the licenses needed to continue to see patients in our surrounding areas. Working on interstate licensing agreements and compacts is another long-term sustainable solution to ensure that telehealth remains robust and viable for both our patients and our practices.
This transcription has been edited for clarity.