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Connected Care Update

August 31, 2020

Please find below updates on how the health care system is leveraging telehealth and remote patient monitoring - including research, data, and polling on its current use in response to COVID-19.

Alliance Updates

Register for Taskforce on Telehealth Report ReleaseThe Taskforce, a multi-stakeholder effort convened by the Alliance for Connected Care, NCQA and ATA will issue its final report on September 15.  A public unveiling event will be hosted virtually on Tuesday, September 15 at 2:00 PM ET.  Register here

Call for Telehealth Data:  The Alliance continues to collect data necessary to understand usage during COVID-19 and make the case for permanent telehealth policies.  We are prioritizing the following areas: 

  1. Utilization data: to what extent is telehealth serving as a replacement for in-person care (versus new utilization)?
  2. No-show Rates: Were no-show rates reduced, and if so, by how much?
  3. Post-discharge: Were post-discharge transition codes (which may lower readmissions) billed at a higher rate?
  4. SNF Transfers: Did telehealth resolve skilled nursing facility -resident issues without transfer, i.e. were transfers to hospitals lower without compromising patient care?
  5. Imaging: Were orders for imaging for telehealth higher or lower for than in-person care?

Please submit your data/research to

Executive Branch Telehealth Activity

The Alliance for Connected Care continues to update a COVID-19 website tracking guidance.  We have also posted our summary of the CY2021 Physician Fee Schedule. 

Department of Veterans Affairs: (8/27) – VA announced that the use of digital screening at VA health care facilities and increased telehealth has enabled the department to dramatically increase the rate of COVID-19 testing for veterans and employees. To date, VA has tested more than 576,000 Veterans and employees for COVID-19. View the press release

Congressional Activity

The Alliance for Connected Care continues to update a recent telehealth legislation page with information about bills referenced.

Letter to FCC: (8/21) U.S. Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i) led a group of 15 senators in urging Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chair Ajit Pai to increase funding for and improve the operations of the Rural Health Care (RHC) program, which helps expand access to telehealth services in hard-to-reach and economically depressed communities.

Letter to HHS & CMS: (8/24) – Sen. Gillibrand (D-NY) led Sens. Casey (D-PA), Warren (D-MA), Smith (D-MN) and Blumenthal (D-CT) in a letter to HHS Secretary Azar and CMS Administrator Verma to ensure priority access and resources for PPE for home care and hospice workers and patient protection, to allow additional flexibilities in telehealth waivers for Medicare home health agencies (HHAs), to support Medicaid HHAs and home and community-based services (HCBS) agencies and their essential workers through CARES Act funding, and to provide states with additional flexibilities to use Medicaid funds for HCBS providers. View the press release and letter.

Research and Reports

Check out the Alliance for Connected Care studies and polling website for more reseources.  

GlobalData: (8/26) – In a survey conducted by data and analytics company GlobalData, 79% of specialists indicated that their use of telemedicine technology had increased as a result of the pandemic. Of the 79% of respondents who reported an increase in use, almost 30% reported an increase of between 81–100%, while 13% indicated an increase of 61–80%.

McKnight Senior Living: (8/27) – In a new survey from Caring Advisor, older adults were more satisfied with the experience of virtual visits as compared with other age groups. Survey respondents also indicated they were most comfortable completing virtual appointments with their primary care physician (74.5%), psychiatrist (70.1%), allergist (62%), gastroenterologist (53.5%) and infectious disease specialist (53.1%).  Top concerns about virtual visits included receiving a misdiagnosis, having technology difficulties, not being able to run more tests, and medical records not being secure.

mHealthIntelligence: (8/28) – A new study published this week in the Journal of General Internal Medicine found that providers using a virtual care platform with real-time access to their own prescribing statistics as well as practice-wide statistics reduced their prescribing rates, which would reduce the estimated 2.8 million antibiotic resistant infections that occur each year in the U.S.

Telehealth News

Healthcare IT News: (8/24) – From the beginning of March through July, Martel said, Central Maine Healthcare (CMH) conducted more than 25,000 visits via telehealth. "Many of their patients have mobility challenges, and so allowing them to conduct these visits through telehealth has been very helpful," CMH Chief Medical Information Officer Dr. Steven Martel said. The system is also exploring behavioral telehealth services, which can be advantageous in an environment where mental health care can be difficult to access.

mHealthIntelligence: (8/24) – The University of California announced a partnership with CITRIS (the Center for Technology Research in the Interest of Society) on the Lighthouse for Older Adults initiative, which will equip affordable housing complexes serving more than 300 seniors with connected health services, including digital literacy training.

mHealthIntelligence: (8/25) – Amwell announced that it filed for an IPO and announced a $100 million investment in the company. The Massachusetts-based company will name Google as its preferred global cloud partner and move its video services to that platform.

Healthcare IT News: (8/25) – Parker Jewish Institute for Health Care and Rehabilitation is using FCC funding for more laptops, mobile devices and remote patient monitoring strategies to enable doctors to monitor patients from anywhere. “Through this measure, our elderly residents and patients will be able to receive routine, non-emergent access to care, with their preferred healthcare providers, to address their chronic medical problems as well as anxiety, depression and other diagnosed disorders,” said Lorraine Breuer, senior vice president for research and grants, and compliance officer, at Parker Jewish Institute for Health Care and Rehabilitation.

Healthcare IT News: (8/26) – Nevada is ranked 51 in the nation for providing behavioral health services. Spurred by COVID-19 and FCC funds, Bridge Counseling Associates hopes to change that. “Those opportunities will require technology placement of laptops and stands in remote public service agencies such as fire departments, sheriffs’ offices, nonprofits or rural clinics where behavioral health clients can access services,” said David Robeck, president and CEO of Bridge Counseling Associates.

STAT: (8/27) – An op-ed in STAT discusses the potential for telegenetic consultations to speed time to diagnosis for people living with rare diseases. The op-ed also highlights a pilot program, which has been working with Microsoft to pioneer the use of telegenetic consultations for patients. Since the inception of this pilot program in 2019, the average time a patient waits to see a clinical geneticist has decreased from three to four months to just six to eight days.

HealthLeaders: (8/27) – HealthLeaders issued an article highlighting five health systems who have transformed through telehealth, including Alliance members MedStar Health and Intermountain Healthcare, UW Health, MarinHealth and OSF HealthCare.

Healthcare IT News: (8/28) – The Arc Madison Cortland, with funding from the FCC to provide telehealth services, is using virtual care to connect intellectual/developmental disability patients with providers during COVID-19.

Upcoming Events

September 1 – CheT Talks with Trent Haywood, “Will Insurers Pay for Telemedicine.Webinar

    September 2 – #TelemedNow Twitter chat at 8pm ET

    September 4 - MedPAC will discuss, "Expansion of telehealth in Medicare

    September 15 -  Taskforce on Telehealth Public Report Release, 2:00 PM ET

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