The data is in. Nearly three years into expanded telehealth flexibilities, we are finally seeing an influx of substantial and peer-reviewed research on the expansion and impact of telehealth on the health care system. The Healthcare Leadership Council and the Alliance for Connected Care invite you to join a virtual panel of experts who will discuss the implications of both their own and national telehealth data on our understanding of healthcare utilization, quality, and access. These findings could not be more crucial for policymakers weighing the implications of permanent telehealth expansion.
Ethan Booker, MD, Chief Medical Officer for Telehealth, MedStar Health
Jackie Gerhart, MD, Vice President of Clinical Informatics, Epic
Brenna O’Malley, Lead Analyst, Ascension Data Science Institute
Mary Grealy, President, Healthcare Leadership Council
Krista Drobac, Executive Director, Alliance for Connected Care
White House Office of Science and Technology Policy: Looking Towards the Future of Telehealth in Medicare, Evidence is Needed (11/10) – The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) released a blog post encouraging medical professionals to share their recommendations on which telehealth services should be covered by Medicare. The blog also acknowledges the telehealth experiences from federal health care providers at the Veterans Health Administration and the Military Health System. Evidence submissions for the Medicare telehealth services list must be received no later than February 10, 2023 to be considered for 2024.
Telehealth Research, Reports and Surveys
Chartis Group: Telehealth Accounts for About Ten Percent of Outpatient Visits (11/9) – Data and analysis provided by the Chartis Group and Kythera Labs found that telehealth grew in popularity between 2020 and 2022, ultimately gaining the reputation of being considered a lasting option for health care delivery approaches. Most notably, telehealth accounts for 10 percent of all outpatient visits, significantly higher than the one percent before the pandemic. Behavioral health specialties remain the clinical leader of telehealth adoption, which represents 57 percent of all outpatient visits within that clinical service domain. Telehealth use was highest among younger adults ages 18 to 44, accounting for 15 percent of total outpatient visits in June. The option was used least among adults age 65 and older, accounting for just five percent of outpatient visits. These findings suggest telehealth can be a viable solution in more clinical specialties and with broader patient groups than might be expected. For additional coverage, see MobiHealth News, PR Newswire, and mHealth Intelligence.
Health Affairs: Use of And Willingness To Use Video Telehealth Through The COVID-19 Pandemic (11/7) – According to a report published in Health Affairs, during the COVID-19 pandemic, there was an increase in willingness to use video telehealth. Researchers found that from February 2019 to March 2021, there was an overall increase in willingness to use video telehealth from 50.8 to 62.2 percent. Black adults and adults with lower educational attainment had especially pronounced increases. Before the pandemic, Black adults were less willing to use telehealth than those of other races or ethnicities, with 42 percent reporting willingness in February 2019 compared with 67 percent one year into the pandemic, which was as high or higher than other racial or ethnic groups. Findings suggest that willingness to use telehealth can and does change over time in response to changing circumstances. For additional coverage, see the RAND Corporation press release, Fierce Healthcare, and US News & World Report.
Patient Experience Journal: Patient Satisfaction with Telemedicine About Equal to In-Person Visits (11/7) – A study published in Patient Experience Journal found that patients were just as satisfied with telemedicine visits as in-person appointments during the COVID-19 pandemic. The study reviewed 307,185 patient surveys by the Mayo Clinic and found no significant differences in patient ratings of telemedicine visits and in-person clinic visits from July 1, 2020, to June 30, 2021. Overall, primary care earned scores of 84.3 percent for telemedicine compared to 85.1 percent for in-person visits. Family medicine ratings were tied at 84.7 percent for telemedicine or in-person appointments. This study demonstrated that patient satisfaction with telemedicine visits was non-inferior to in-person outpatient visits during the study timeframe. For additional coverage, see Medical Economics.
MedPage Today: Telehealth Training May Address Shortages for Pediatric Mental Health Services (11/7) – An initiative designed to cross-train social work students to provide mental health services remotely to children and adolescents increased confidence and interest in providing those services after graduation. The trial initiative, presented at the 2022 Neuroscience Education Institute Congress, found that 90 percent of students could successfully conduct a telemental health visit. Created and run by nurse practitioners, the training was designed to be incorporated into the curriculum of interprofessional students but focused on social work and nursing programs. The training was developed to meet the Institute of Medicine's recommendation that all educational institutions add telemental health training for professions that provide mental health services.
Telehealth News and Market Developments
Digital Journal: 988 Crisis Line and Other Resources for Those Facing Mental Health Crisis (11/9) – Utah found itself more prepared for the new number 988-crisis line – and the potential increased number of calls – than other states. The Utah Crisis Commission pushed Utah legislators and congressional leaders to statutorily create, fund, and staff a statewide crisis line prior to the release of the federal 988-crisis line. Intermountain Healthcare, an Alliance for Connected Care board member, itself has continued to build capacity and resources in response to the growing behavioral health crisis in our communities, including its own Behavioral Health Connect Care – the telehealth option for anyone in the state to use.
Fierce Healthcare: Industry Voice – The Era of Hybrid Telehealth Care Has Arrived (11/9) – Health care is – and will always be – highly personal. While virtual care has proved to be a critical tool for creating access, especially for urgent and mental health care, people will want a hybrid virtual and in-person care option. Telehealth is a tool, not a toolbox. Digital health has developed powerful, life-changing technologies, but their potential will always be limited if they are deployed without context—context that can only be acquired through a trusting patient-provider relationship. The demand for that relationship will always transcend a moment.
LA School Report: Analysis: What Will the End of COVID Public Health Emergency Mean for School-Based Telehealth (11/9) – The expiration of the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency will create significant complexity for schools that provide telehealth services to students. Given the potential benefits of telehealth, such school-based care can improve the quality and effectiveness of care, especially for certain conditions. The authors recommend district and school health leaders reorient themselves with federal and state policies and procedures that were in place before the pandemic ando ensure that any additional requirements imposed on their organizations by the emergency flexibilities that are not expiring meet ongoing regulatory requirements.
The Washington Post: Telemedicine Has Improved Health Care Access. Let’s Keep it That Way (11/8) – Telemedicine has emerged as one of the several crucial innovations coming out the coronavirus pandemic, making it easier for many people to access health care. But as the crisis phase of the pandemic comes to an end, these gains could be rolled back. Research has shown the expansion of telemedicine during COVID is either replacing care that could be delivered more conveniently as a virtual visit, or enabling services that otherwise wouldn’t be accessible. Policymakers should try to preserve these expanded telehealth flexibilities.
Health Leaders: Health Systems Succeed with Effective Outpatient Strategies (11/8) – A top executive at New York-Presbyterian (NYP) says effective outpatient strategies are critical to the success of health systems. Outpatient practices can drive value, harness telemedicine, provide access, and promote equitable care. NYP highlights that 20 percent of their patients want telehealth as an option for care. Telehealth helps with key metrics in decisions to open new outpatient practices such as time to set up appointments, patient engagement surveys, and quality measures.
Politico, “How Divided Government Would Affect Health Policy.” Ben Leonard interviewed Sen. Cassidy (R-LA) about what the new political alignment in Washington, D.C. means for health policy. Sen. Cassidy (R-LA) hopes for a bipartisan effort on telehealth.
Healthcare IT News, “Mental Health Care Can Get A Boost from Telehealth.” Virtual care has a big role to play in enabling better mental and behavioral health. Dr. Holly Dubois, chief clinical officer at Mindstrong, offers a look at a special telemedicine program designed to prevent suicide among veterans.