Telemedicine and telehealth have gained provider and public consciousness quickly. Remote care via the internet is no longer a gimmick or techie’s demo toy. Wider care delivery and cost saving potentials prompt healthcare professionals and budget offices to test and implement telemedicine. We’ve written about multiple telemedicine applications. Recently we wrote about smart socks for physiotherapy telecare in development at the University of Melbourne. We also covered physician and patient attitudes and acceptance of telemedicine, such as a recent survey by Software Advice that show the majority of patients want telehealth choices.
A Minnesota state legislator submitted a bill that would grant funds to study telehealth to deliver mental services in schools. Minnesota state representative Peggy Bennett read H.F No. 4198 to the state House of Representatives. The bill was referred to the Committee on Health and Human Services Finance. The gist of the bill appropriates yet-to-be-specified funding to the Department of Human Services. The money will be used to award grants for “four pilot projects to deliver school-linked mental health services by telemedicine.” The grants will be awarded to two pilot projects in the Minneapolis and St. Paul area and two outside the Twin Cities. Six months after the last dollar has been awarded to the last pilot project, the bill requires that the commissioner report on their effectiveness to the legislative committees with control of mental health issue.
Minnesota isn’t alone. Texas, Utah, and Georgia have proposed laws, issued reports, or funded telemental health in schools and communities. Political fodder from concerns about drug use, school violence, and bullying may drive legislator’s attention to telemedicine. Regardless of the motivation, the programs address a full range of mental health issues and raise general consciousness of telemedicine’s significant potential.