Governments Take a Stance on Telehealth

Telehealth regulation has become a trending topic since U.S. legislators introduced the Medicare Telehealth Parity Act of 2017, but internationally, governments are taking mixed positions on regulation. Telehealth has grown in the past decade into a global industry that extends care across borders, and is driving innovation in areas like triage and disease management. Yet despite its proliferation, national policy remains disjointed and poses a major hurdle across the industry.

To make sense of the confusion, Lux evaluated 50+ countries on the favorability of their policies on telehealth (see figure below). States with a positive take have a national policy with clearly defined medical jurisdictions, liability, and reimbursement of services. Neutral nations have no cohesive national policy, and a negative take signifies an explicitly anti-telehealth regulation.

From this view, it becomes clear that telehealth regulation is in its infancy and that, internationally, nations are struggling to keep pace with innovation. While leaders like the U.S., Japan, and Australia have adopted the technology, most nations lack any telehealth-specific policy. Even among positive-leaning nations, reimbursement is often patchwork (as in the U.S.), or limited to live video while ignoring the other major categories (as in Australia). Neutral nations are in many cases making strides, but largely provide only fractured policy frameworks that frustrate the go-to-market strategies of would-be telehealth players. Across the board, inconsistent reimbursement and medical liability create significant challenges to launching and expanding telehealth practices. Readers should monitor telehealth regulation and consider the barriers posed to growth before entering the space.

By: Joseph Sweeny