Hawai`i has enacted a new law to make telemedicine more accessible to patients and health care providers.
Governor Neil Abercrombie this month signed into law Senate Bill 2469 (Relating to Telehealth), which requires equivalent reimbursement for services, including behavioral health services, provided through telehealth as for the same services provided via face-to-face contact between a health care provider and a patient. The measure also clarifies that health care providers for purposes of telehealth include primary care providers, mental health providers, oral health providers, physicians and osteopathic physicians, advanced practice registered nurses, psychologists, and dentists. For consistency purposes, the bill changes statutory references of “telemedicine” to “telehealth.”Appearing with the Governor at the bill-signing was John A. Burns School of Medicine Psychiatry Chair Dr. Anthony Guerrero. Dr. Guerrero provided expertise to the legislature as it considered the telehealth bill. The Department of Psychiatry, with its main offices at The Queen’s Medical Center, is also one of Hawai`i’s most experienced users of telemedicine. In partnership with the Hawai’i Department of Health, Child and Adolescent Mental Health Division and other healthcare partners, Psychiatry employs telemedicine to serve patients on the neighbor islands – including Maui County and Hawai’i Island.