Alliance for Connected Care: Launch of Cross-State Licensure Webpage (7/15) – The Alliance for Connected Care is excited to announce the launch of its new cross-state licensure webpage. This landing page has background information on the issue, specific Alliance advocacy related to this topic, and information on federal action, research, and general news on the issue.
Patient Engagement HIT: Most Patients Back Expanded Nurse Practitioner Scope of Practice (7/11) – A recent survey
by the Alliance for Connected Care found that 82 percent of patients support giving broader nurse practitioners scope of practice so they can practice to the full extent of their clinical education and licensure, including through telehealth. Nearly 80 percent of health care providers, including physicians, NPs, PAs, nurses, and therapists, also agree and support NPs in providing care to the full extent of their training, including through telehealth visits.
Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services: CMS Releases Hospital OPPS Proposed Rule (7/15) – CMS released the CY2023 Hospital Outpatient Prospective Payment System (OPPS) and ASC Payment System Proposed Rule, which makes policy and payment updates for hospital outpatient and ambulatory surgical centers. CMS is seeking comment on several measures under consideration for the new Rural Emergency Hospital Quality Reporting Program, including rural telehealth services. CMS is also proposing behavioral health services furnished remotely by clinical staff of hospital outpatient departments, including staff of critical access hospitals (CAHs), through the use of telecommunications technology to beneficiaries in their homes, to be considered as covered outpatient services for which payment is made under the OPPS. For more information, see this general fact sheet and a fact sheet on Rural Emergency Hospitals.
Inside Telehealth Policy: CMS To Decide Telehealth Extensions on Case-By-Case Basis (7/15) – According to the Physician Fee Scheduled, published on July 7, CMS is laying plans to decide on a case-by-case basis which COVID-19 telehealth flexibilities to extend through the end of 2023 if the 151-day extension of telehealth waivers expires before the end of next year. The CY 2023 proposed physician fee schedule makes several telehealth services that are temporarily available through the COVID-19 public health emergency available under a temporary category III basis, implements telehealth provisions in the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2022, and ensures that the proper service indicator is included on Medicare telehealth and audio-only service forms where appropriate.
Senator Collins: Senator Collins Meets with Maine Members of the American Osteopathic Association (7/14) – Senator Collins (R-ME) met with Maine members of the American Osteopathic Association to discuss the need to make COVID-19 telehealth flexibilities permanent, which will allow patients to continue to safely connect with their doctors. Specifically, they spoke about the importance of training the next generation of doctors and nurses – particularly in rural areas – to increase access to care.
House Energy & Commerce Committee: Pallone Applauds Committee Passage of Five Health and Telecommunications Bills (7/13) – The House Energy & Commerce Committee passed five bipartisan bills during a full Committee markup on July 13, four of which are telecommunications bills. One such bill was the Ensuring Phone and Internet Access Through Lifeline and Affordable Connectivity Program Act (H.R. 4275), which would require the Federal Communications Commission to annually submit a report to Congress regarding the number of households that qualify for Lifeline and the Affordable Connectivity Program through automatic qualifying programs set forth in state and regulations.
Telehealth Research, Reports and Surveys
CVS Health: Health Care Insights Study 2022 (7/12) – According to Alliance board member CVS Health’s 2022 Health Care Insights Study, a little over half (53 percent) of providers said that the addition of virtual care options led to an increase in patient visits. The 2022 Health Care Insights Study includes survey results from two questionnaires fielded by Market Measurement, a national market research consulting firm, between March 30 and April 7. Compared to in-person appointments, health care consumers find virtual visits more convenient because they don't have to leave home (41 percent), they don't have to cover transportation costs (37 percent), and they save time (37 percent). This is in line with national telehealth usage trends. For additional coverage, see mHealth Intelligence.
American Medical Association: Inside The Big Variations In Telehealth Use Among Physicians (7/11) – According to an American Medical Association survey, telehealth use has dropped off somewhat since adoption skyrocketed at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, but interest in maintaining virtual visits remains high. Telehealth is being used by 85 percent of survey respondents, with 56 percent of respondents reporting that they are personally motivated to increase their use of telehealth, and 70 percent saying that their organization's leadership is interested in continuing to offer telehealth. There findings are similar to a survey
conducted by the Alliance for Connected Care in March.
JAMA Network: Hospitalization Outcomes Among Patients With COVID-19 Undergoing Remote Monitoring (7/7) – A study found that implementing a remote patient monitoring (RPM) program led to positive outcomes for COVID-19 patients, including lower hospitalizations, intensive care use, and lengths of stay. Researchers performed a cohort study at Froedtert and Medical College of Wisconsin Health Network, an academic health system in Wisconsin. The goal of the study was to gain insight into the effectiveness of RPM by using measurements like patient outcomes and hospitalization rates. The study found that remotely monitored patients averaged a 4.44-day length of stay, shorter than the 7.14-day average experienced by those not being monitored. Additionally, 15 monitored patients were admitted to the intensive care unit as opposed to 44 unmonitored patients. For additional coverage, see mHealth Intelligence and Wisconsin Public Radio.
State Telehealth News and Activity
WNCT: Gov. Cooper signs bill providing telehealth access to Pitt County (7/12) – North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper signed the 2022 Appropriations Act this week, which will provide $3 million to establish a new telemedicine center in the state. The allocation of funds will go to East Carolina University to establish the center, which will focus on telemedicine and digital health care access.
Post and Courier: MUSC telehealth provides services, equity for homeless (7/11) – The Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) program with the Navigation Center was recently awarded a $15,000 Telehealth Equity Catalyst Award from the Association of American Medical Colleges for using the technology to help reach underserved populations. The Navigation Center allows the homeless population, who are facing barriers such as lack of insurance, money, and transportation, to access care. The Center is applying for grants to help add more mental health services to the telehealth program.
New York State: Governor Hochul Announces the Launch of a New COVID-19 Treatment Hotline by the State Department of Health in Partnerships with NYC Health + Hospitals (7/11) – New York Governor Hochul announced the launch of a new free hotline for those who test positive for COVID-19 but don’t have a health care provider. The hotline was launched by the New York State Department of Health after reaching an agreement to utilize the Virtual ExpressCare platform operated by NYC Health + Hospitals. All New Yorkers outside of New York City are eligible to be evaluated for treatment through this hotline or complete an evaluation that includes telemedicine visit, which will include a clinical assessment by medical providers who will identify the appropriation COVID-19 treatment plan.
Telehealth News and Market Developments
Health Affairs: Audio-Only Telemedicine Visits: Flaws in The Underlying Data Make It Hard To Assess Their Use And Impact (7/15) – In the ongoing debate about the future of telemedicine reimbursement, the role of audio-only visits has been particularly contentious. Proponents of permanent reimbursement of audio-only telemedicine argue that these visits represent a critical means of accessing care, particularly for patients with digital and other barriers to video visits. However, some have raised concerns that audio-only telemedicine visits can be of lower quality, may be overused, and are more susceptible to fraud. Ideally, this policy debate would be informed by an accurate picture of how audio-only telemedicine is used in the US. Unfortunately, there are reasons to be concerned with the data currently available.
American Hospital Association – Four Ways to Improve Digital Health Equity (7/15) – Over the past few years, there has been an increase in tech-based approaches to improving maternal outcomes and the birthing journey. While most women still have in-person visits to check the progress of their pregnancy, delivery or check-in following delivery, technology can expand the reach of health care services. Digital solutions, including remote patient monitoring, mobile health apps, and telehealth visits, has helped facilitate continuous communication between expecting and new moms and their care teams. To ensure that all moms and their families have access to digital solutions, hospitals can partner with community-based organizations to assess whether these digital solutions are easily accessible and understandable by all types of patients and communities.
mHealth Intelligence: Penn Medicine Receives Grants to Further Virtual Care Innovation (7/14) – Three Penn Medicine projects, including one that aims to improve access to buprenorphine through telehealth, received $200,000 each from Independence Blue Cross. Penn Medicine is an academic medical center that focuses on medical education, patient care, and research advancements. It includes the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, the nation’s first medical school, and the University of Pennsylvania Health System.
Politico Pro: Amwell CEO on Telehealth’s ‘Biggest War’ Ahead (7/13) – In this Politico Pro interview, Roy Schoenberg, president and co-CEO of Amwell, an Alliance for Connected Care board member, discussed the state of telehealth. Schoenberg noted state licensure as the biggest challenge for telehealth. He stated that health care should be distributed around the country through technology and should not be stopped at one state. For additional coverage, see Becker’s Hospital Review.
Arizona Telemedicine Program: How AI Helps Health Care Providers Improve Telehealth Patient Care in Real-Time (7/12) – Physicians and nurse practitioners provide a vital role in the nation’s health care. Teams can use telehealth services to improve the quality and accessibility of health care services. Additionally, the use of artificial intelligence (AI) can help providers improve telehealth patient care in real-time.
Healthcare IT News: The Key Relationship Between Health Equity and Telemedicine (7/12) – In this interview with Toni Land, head of clinical health care experience at patient and customer experience management company Medallia, Healthcare IT News covers the relationship between telehealth and health equity. Land highlights that telehealth has the ability to increase access to care, especially in rural areas where there often are increased wait times and limited clinician services. By allowing patients to engage with health care providers in their preferred method, there is an opportunity to more actively and intentionally engage patients, families and team members in health practices and disease-targeted telehealth sessions.
American Urological Association: AUA Language on Telehealth Included in LHHS Appropriations Bill Report
(7/12) - On June 29, the House Appropriations Committee released the Report for the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services (LHHS), and Related Agencies for Fiscal Year 2023 Appropriations, which included Alliance Advisory Board member the American Urological Association’s (AUA) requested language on telehealth. The AUA drafted several telehealth provisions that, if enacted, would help ensure patients can continue to access care through telehealth. Data about telehealth usage can also be adequately collected to shape future policy.