Arkansas has become a reference point for many states seeking full-scale health system transformation. The Arkansas Health System Transformation Initiative has four focus areas: payment innovation, health care workforce development, expanded health care coverage, and the adoption and enhanced use of health information technology. The Initiative’s continued progress, particularly with respect to ensuring access to providers upon expanded coverage, is dependent on the availability and deployment of new tools that connect patients with providers when and where they are needed. Among those tools is telemedicine, a term that describes the use of telecommunications and information technologies for the delivery of health care services unfettered by geographical location. Telemedicine may serve to lessen provider maldistribution and shortage issues in Arkansas, extend the reach of urban providers, and further promote team-based care. While the use of telemedicine for the delivery of care offers benefits that are well-documented, issues remain for its widespread adoption and integration into routine health care.
This issue brief discusses telemedicine and its benefits, regulatory challenges to its adoption, and recommendations for the development of informed policies and regulations that promote its use.