Since Matthew’s hospitalization last year, he gets very nervous when he’s not feeling well.
“I think I need to go back to the hospital,” he’ll say. If he were living at home, I could see him, size up the situation and reassure him. So the folks at Camphill, having determined that a trip to the hospital was not necessary, suggested that we Skype each other. At first I thought this was a silly idea. Who do they think I am, Jane Jetson? And who looks good on Skype, anyway? But Matthew’s ability to see me and mine to see him has proved not only to be reassuring, but saves time and money and unnecessary visits to the ER.
This is the concept behind Telehealth, a powerful and important tool that helps overcome major obstacles in providing services to underserved populations, and it may soon be available to the individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders and other disabilities thanks to Senate Bill 764.
Authored Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento), the bill was approved by the Senate last week by a 35 to zero vote and and supported by a host of service providers and advocacy groups, individuals and organizations.(See list at the end of this post). The bill has been sent to Governor Brown.
SB 764 establishes voluntary guidelines for Regional Centers that makes access to care for children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) and other disabilities and their families more accessible. Since these telehealth services must have potential benefits to the consumers or regional centers, SB 764 may have potentially significant cost-savings to the state.
Regional Centers face increasing challenges and pressures in providing services that are mandated by the Lanterman Act for the more than 51,000 ASD consumers in the Regional Center system. Funding ASD services is estimated to be 3 to 4 times more costly than other developmental disabilities. Thus, ASD is among the major cost-drivers within the escalating Department of Developmental Services (DDS) budget.
California has been a national leader in the use of innovative technology and in 1996 passed one of the first telemedicine laws in the country. Telehealth is now used extensively in many medical settings and has been demonstrated to reduce costs, improve the quality of services and increase access for underserved communities.
SB 764 will:
Improve access to intervention and therapeutic Regional Center services and will facilitate the implementation of innovative and more cost-effective services, including, but not limited to, parent training for autism applied behavioral analysis interventions.Require each Regional Center individual program planning team to consider the use of telehealth, on a voluntary basis and whenever applicable, for the purpose of improving access to intervention and therapeutic services for all consumers and across the lifespan.Require DDS to establish appropriate vendorization and reimbursement codes for telehealth services and programs.Provide an important process by which to evaluate the efficacy and cost- effectiveness of telehealth services. On a voluntary basis, Regional Centers shall provide information on the frequency, applications, cost- effectiveness, consumer and family satisfaction and other pertinent information to DDS.Improve the lives of the growing number of individuals with developmental disabilities in California by bringing intervention services directly to them and their families in a more natural setting.Increase cost-effectiveness and facilitate better service delivery by optimizing the use of existing resources through the use of technology.
Another telehealth bill is also in the works, SB 1050(Alquist) which will establish an Autism Telehealth task force within the Department of Developmental Services. CLICK HERE to learn more about this promising legislation.
To learn more about SB 764, CLICK HERE.
SB 764 supporters:
What are your thoughts about this method of delivering heathcare?
The Morgan Autism Center Conference is September 22. More about it soon, but REGISTER NOW because it is going to be amazing. (Carol Gray is keynote!)
ALSO: The Marin and North Bay Autism Lecture Series starts Sept. 19. (more about that soon) but CLICK HERE to learn more and register.
Got autism questions? Need resources? Email me here firstname.lastname@example.org and I will do my very best to help.
FOLLOW ME on FACEBOOK and TWITTER.
In case you wondered, I’m happy to talk to your group.
GO HERE to learn more.
Read the first three chapters of A REGULAR GUY: GROWING UP WITH AUTISM here.
You’ll be hooked.
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