March 10, 2022 Contact: Robbie Kenney / (609) 847-3600
Legislation sponsored by Senator Holly Schepisi and Senator Michael Testa that would bolster emergency care standards for telemedicine cleared the Senate Health, Human Services & Senior Citizens Committee today.
“Telehealth and telemedicine are here to stay. Since the pandemic, we have had a significant uptick in the need for timely mental health services while those most needing these services oftentimes are placed on lengthy waitlists for treatment. One tool to address this pressing need is to expand the convenience and benefits of virtual mental health services while providing better avenues for medical professionals to immediately coordinate emergency care for their patients,” said Senator Schepisi (R-39).
“With people now utilizing remote mental health care options at a rate many times higher than pre-COVID levels, more residents are using it to get more immediate help with serious mental health conditions, including anxiety and depression,” Schepisi noted. “It is essential to ensure proper procedures are in place for dealing with life-or-death emergencies, including threats of self-harm or suicide.”
The Schepisi/Testa bill, S-606, requires health care providers using telemedicine or telehealth to make good faith efforts to “activate and coordinate with emergency care services” when a patient demonstrates an urgent need for help. This would include providing the patient’s name and contact information to emergency services and attempting to determine the individual’s current location.
“Telemedicine has changed the way people engage with health professionals,” said Testa (R-1). “As the trend expands and more of us are interacting with doctors through video, it is vital to take steps to secure the best care possible without in-person contact.
“This legislation will help elevate telehealth’s emergency care response with a proven model that emulates practices used by hospitals and doctors’ offices for patients in emotional crisis,” Testa continued. “It will establish tele-care standards that will help save lives.”