Telemedicine on the rise, but more clarity in Louisiana law needed

In Baton Rouge, state lawmakers have worked to accommodate the fledgling industry. In 2016, the Legislature passed a law removing some barriers to telemedicine. As long as doctors were licensed to practice in Louisiana, the law said, they no longer had to have an office in the state or be under contract with an in-state provider. In addition, visits could be accomplished with interactive audio instead of two-way video.

The Children's Hospital initiative, called TECH, short for Telemedicine for the Enhancement of Children's Health, was launched last year. More than 200 patients have enrolled, and the hospital expects to add more specialties.

"The temptation is to see telemedicine as a replacement for an in-person visit, and I feel that is a mistake," said Dr. Aaron Martin, Children's Hospital doctor. "Telemedicine needs to be an enhancement of the patient's care, not a substitute, not a replacement, not a way to get around something. It's a way to enhance it."

"We're very careful that we can provide the same quality of care as if you showed up in any of our clinics, and to do that we believe that you need to be seeing one of our physicians whom we trust and that you'd see in person yourself, as opposed to talking to a physician who doesn't know you," he said.

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