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Gov. Kitzhaber signs bill requiring coverage of telemedicine for diabetes

SB 787 calls on OHSU Harold Schnitzer Diabetes Health Center to develop, test two-year pilot study

Gov. Kitzhaber today took part in a signing ceremony for legislation that authorizes the Harold Schnitzer Diabetes Health Center at Oregon Health & Science University to develop and conduct a pilot study that uses telemedicine as a means to treat patients with diabetes. The bill passed both houses with unanimous votes and is effective January 1, 2012.

The intent of the legislation is to promote greater and more efficient contact between physicians and their patients with diabetes via two-way audio and video conferencing, phone and email. The telemedicine project would specifically apply to those individuals with diabetes who are being treated with complex insulin regimens. Telemedicine has been shown to reduce travel expenses and time away from work for patients in remote areas, and help staff more effectively manage their time.

After the two-year pilot study, OHSU will analyze and report results to the 2013 Legislature. If the data indicate both increased quality of patient care and improved cost and time efficiencies, the potential to expand telemedicine service and have it covered by insurance carriers in the state of Oregon may be expanded to include the health management of other diseases.

“We are extremely pleased that the OHSU Harold Schnitzer Diabetes Health Center was selected to lead this effort. Our preliminary findings will be shared intermittently over the next two years with Oregon leaders and other partners in diabetes prevention and treatment,” said Andrew Ahmann, M.D., director of the Harold Schnitzer Diabetes Health Center at OHSU.

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SB 787 -- Requires health benefit plan to provide coverage of telemedical health service provided in connection with treatment of diabetes that meets certain criteria if health service is otherwise covered by plan.

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