Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Bill to Establish Pilot

Massachusetts State Senator Michael O. Moore (D-MA) introduced bill (MA SB 520) in the current legislative session to establish a pilot program to test whether using telemedicine to provide medical services to inmates at 14 county correctional facilities would be effective in reducing healthcare and medical expenses.

The state Executive Office of Public Safety and Security (EOPSS) would oversee the program and would designate one of the County facilities to lead the effort. The pilot program needs to be implemented 120 days after enactment of the legislation.

The required equipment would enable video conferencing, remote vital sign measurement capabilities, software to process the information, broadband to communicate, software to allow remote physicians to connect via their PC plus other appropriate devices and software.

The legislation requires that 45 days after the legislation is enacted, a Request for Proposal (RFP) for telemedicine systems should be released. Preference will be given to prime contractors headquartered in the state.

Once telemedicine technologies are installed in the jails and houses of corrections, the correctional facilities must maintain a log of all telemedicine transactions, the physicians involved, and the diagnosis and decisions made for treating inmates.

Within one year from the time the program is implemented, the EOPSS will review the log data and calculate the potential cost savings. This tabulation needs to include all elements of treatment, costs in terms of travel time to the facility, transport cost for the prisoners, guard costs to watch prisoners, and any other cost elements that relate to the use of the telemedicine system. The data will be summarized in a report on the success or failure of the program.