It’s political season
here in the United States! National
presidential political debates are carried live on television, radio and
the Internet. Play by play commentaries by political correspondents,
documentaries in every major newspaper, chat room and bulletin board
activities on all the major web news sites exemplify the new political
climate. Pamphlets and
mailers, voter guides and campaign donation requests arrive daily in my
mailbox as local community elections near. So….
fall I attended two important healthcare conferences.
The first, MedNet 99: The 4th Annual World Congress On
the Internet in Medicine titled “Towards the Millennium of
Cybermedicine,” in Heidelberg, Germany.
This meeting aimed to bring together researchers, developers and
users involved in the application of the internet in medicine to explore
the rapidly developing relationship between medical sciences and the
internet through scientific sessions, workshops and tutorials.
The meeting provided cutting edge information, and I returned with
new ideas and new friends from around the world.
speaking with many of the attendees, I was struck by the different legal
rules and regulations that are present in various countries and how few
have seemed to keep pace with the changes the use of the internet has made
possible. For example, some
countries restrict access to information (for consumers) or advertising
one’s services on-line. In
Germany, images of physicians or physicians with patients are not allowed
on a website if it is linked to a product or hospital, as it is considered
advertising and a breach of the physician/client relationship.
In other countries, restrictions are limited only by ones
attendees begin to network with colleagues worldwide and provide
information and resources to each other via the web, they are beginning to
realize different laws in different countries will and do affect their
ability to relay or receive information via the world wide web.
second conference, “Telemedicine National Conference on Legal and Policy
Developments” presented by the Center for Telemedicine Law was held in
Washington, DC. This
conference presented information on telemedicine reimbursement, licensure,
regulatory barriers to practice, risk management and legal issues, as well
as congressional and executive branch telemedicine initiatives.
program highlight was the Congressional welcome from Senator Kent Conrad
(D-ND) and Representative Larry Combest (R-TX), Co-Chairs, Ad Hoc Steering
Committee on Telehealth and a Congressional Telemedicine Initiatives Panel
composed of representatives from the offices of Senator Kent Conrad
(D-ND), Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), Senator Charles Grassley (R-IA) and
Senator Robert Bennett (R-UT).
you were not already aware, Senator Kent Conrad sponsored
“The Comprehensive Telehealth Act of 1999,” which would make
telehealth services more widely available.
This act addresses four areas to integrate telehealth into the
health care system: Medicare reimbursement for telehealth services;
periodic reports to congress; development of telehealth networks; and,
telehealth licensure. The
telehealth licensure section should be of particular interest to
telehealth providers, telephone nurses, and all those interested in
interstate licensure issues.
part of the Act asks the Secretary of Health and Human Services to look
into easing the licensing burdens of telehealth practitioners who now are
forced to be licensed in every state they administer telehealth services. So….
connection: telehealth licensure issues are similar to telephone nursing
licensure issues. The
problem: many telephone nurses are not aware of the licensure issues that
they must follow, or worse, most telephone nurses are doing nothing to let
their own voice be heard or get involved in the political process.
How many of you have contacted your State Board of Nursing, your
state senator or representative to let them know the barriers to telephone
nursing practice and the burden to consumers the current licensure
encourage you to communicate your experiences concerning obstacles that
impose barriers to your telephone nursing practice under your existing
nurse practice act and current regulations requiring additional licensure
in states you receive or direct calls to or from to your state nursing
board, senators, and representatives.
Get involved and keep informed.
Please link to your Congressperson’s website, voice your opinion,
offer suggestions and always let them know that you would appreciate a
response. Let’s see how many responses we can get.
Remember, your voice can make a difference!
"If your are wondering whether or not it is really worthwhile to communicate your views to your senator or representative in Congress, consider this fact. Others who disagree with you are doing so constantly..." Jim Wright, former Speaker of the House, in his book, "You and Your Congressman."
10-30-99 Copyright Carol M. Stock 1999.
All rights reserved.
The views expressed in
this article are solely those of the author and are not intended as
specific legal advice.
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