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Lawmakers hope to find compromise on telemedicine

Telehealth2Florida lawmakers are rallying behind legislation that would let doctors use advanced communications technology to diagnose patients.

Both the Senate and House tried passing telemedicine bills last year. But the two chambers failed to find a compromise on several key points. The House, for example, wanted to let various types of healthcare providers make use of the technology. The Senate insisted telemedicine be limited to licensed physicians.

This year might be different.

On Tuesday, a bipartisan group of lawmakers including Senate Health and Human Services Committee Chairman Aaron Bean, R-Fernandina Beach, and House Health Policy Committee Chairman Jason Brodeur, R-Sanford, said they expect to reach an agreement.

"Telehealth programs are a cost-effective alternative to traditional consultations and examinations between providers and patients," said state Rep. Travis Cummings, who has filed a telemedicine bill in the House. "Telemedicine increases access to healthcare for patients who do not have access to care and is generally available at a reduced cost."

To help drum up support, Miami Children's Hospital brought a telehealth kiosk to the Capitol on Tuesday. The 8-foot-by-7-foot enclosure is outfitted with touchscreens and medical devices, and lets Miami Children's Hospital providers conduct medical consultations remotely.

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