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Legislators in New Jersey are weighing the relative benefits of telemedicine in order to ensure the evolving technology is used properly—namely, that there’s no danger of virtual doctor visits taking the place of in-person care then the latter is clearly needed. Advocates point out that sometimes patients need to see a physician after even urgent care centers have close, though their symptoms don’t warrant an expensive trip to the emergency room. Detractors say some patients may become too reliant on telemedicine, and that follow-up care may suffer. The bill being considered in New Jersey would require doctors to meet with a patient in person before prescribing potentially addictive drugs. It would also set specific practice guidelines with the State Board of Medical Examiners and have private insurance companies cover telemedicine services at the same rate as in-person visits—similar to laws on the books in 32 states. The bill legislation would cover video conferencing, but not telephone, email, text, or instant messaging “visits.”

NJ Lawmakers Take a Closer Look at Telemedicine