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Policy

Investing in Telehealth

The advancement of health and communication tech has the potential to increase access to care while reducing overhead. We should invest in expanding existing technologies to reach those in underserved areas, especially the 77% of rural counties that are considered rural primary care deserts, 9% of which have no physicians at all. 

The demand for physicians is outpacing the available supply, and the shortage is causing problems for the nation's growing and aging population. Telehealth is an effective approach for doctors across the country to provide care for patients in rural and underserved areas over the internet without needing a specific redundant license to practice medicine in the patient’s state. Utilizing telehealth will enhance quality of life and reduce hospital visits, while curbing deaths from chronic diseases.

Patients will be able to access treatment that may not be conveniently located. About 62% of rural counties are not equipped to provide services such as Diabetes Self-Management Education and Support (DSMES). Numerous case studies have illustrated the benefits of telehealth for DSMES so far. For example, once a rural clinic in Montana implemented it, 61% of participants began monitoring their blood sugar accurately after just six months, an improvement from 31% pre-telehealth. The services have also shown positive results for mental health, stroke treatment, cardiac rehabilitation and cancer treatment. 

Medication abortion has similar efficacy of terminating early pregnancy as in-person abortions. Enlarging the geographical footprint of medical providers through telehealth can improve access to abortion in the 27 US cities with populations greater than 50,000 people that have no abortion clinics within 100 miles.

Telehealth is a cost-effective alternative to the more traditional face-to-face way of providing medical care and has the potential to save billions annually, while improving healthcare related to strokes, cardiac services, diabetes, and epilepsy. Ensuring healthcare for all also requires federal regulation of telehealth and expanding it in a way where we can distribute services and treatment.

As we continue to invest in medical innovation, we must integrate assistive technology into the primary care provided by doctors and nurses. Existing technologies like telehealth and emerging technology like medical AI must be leveraged to expand care. Working together through telemedicine, teams of nurses, AI, and doctors will be able to provide care to thousands of Americans that currently have limited access to healthcare.

As this technology advances, we need to trust in our nurses and nurse practitioners to provide care that’s historically the responsibility of MDs. This will be essential in providing access to care across rural areas and can even be supervised by a doctor through a telehealth system. This new system, combining the best of AI, telehealth, and professional expertise will allow for a more flexible and responsive health force without sacrificing quality of care.

Human anatomy doesn’t change across state lines, but doctors are still required to obtain medical licenses for each state they practice in. These onerous relicensing requirements discourage qualified doctors from providing essential care through telemedicine to those in other states. We must streamline the licensing system and introduce a single, comprehensive telemedicine license that, once granted, will allow care providers to see patients in all 50 states. Federal regulation of medical licensing will remove this friction and encourage doctors to start practicing telemedicine and make inroads into primary care deserts.

Problems to be Solved

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    The shortage of physicians is outpacing the demands of the nation’s growing and aging population.
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    Rural communities are disproportionately affected by the inaccessibility to healthcare providers.
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    Physicians are experiencing redundant medical licensing barriers that are expensive and slow down the process of providing medical services to Americans across state lines.
  • “With greater telehealth infrastructure, we can help nurse practitioners and other health professionals provide a higher level of care under the digital supervision of a doctor. By harnessing the power of technology, we can ensure that the healthcare system functions more efficiently and effectively."

Goals

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    Expand our current telehealth system so physicians are not limited to treating patients within state lines.
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    Utilize telehealth services and ensure broadband access for 99.9% of Americans.
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    Implement federal medical licensing to physicians to practice telehealth across state lines.

As President I will...

  • Encourage the use of telehealth in rural areas and for mental health services.
  • Invest into the use of telehealth in rural areas including ensuring broadband access for 99.9% of Americans. 
  • Allow licensed physicians to administer medical services and medication through telehealth services. 
  • Invest in the development and deployment of medical technology in rural areas to assist Nurse Practitioners and other professionals in administering vital care in areas where an MD is not physically present.
  • Implement federal regulations over telehealth.
  • Implement federal medical licensing to physicians to practice telehealth across state lines.

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