View in browser
Last Week in Connected Care

Week Ending July 3, 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.

 Deadline Extended: Request for Information

Taskforce on Telehealth Policy 

The multi-stakeholder Taskforce on Telehealth Policy, convened by the Alliance for Connected Care, NCQA and ATA is seeking input from the public as it develops policy recommendations to advance quality and patient experience while establishing a stable, long-term environment that fosters the growth and integration of remote services within the healthcare system.

The open comment opportunity has been extended to Monday, July 13. Taskforce conveners will host a live town hall after the public comment period closes to discuss top suggestions.

The Taskforce RFI was highlighted by POLITICO, Inside Health Policy and Health Leaders Media.

Alliance News

Letter to Congressional Leaders: (6/29) – The Alliance co-led a letter with 340 signers calling to make telehealth access created during the COVID-19 pandemic permanent. The letter called on Congress to: 

  • Remove Obsolete Restrictions on the Location of the Patient
  • Maintain and Enhance HHS Authority to Determine Appropriate Providers and Services for Telehealth
  • Ensure Federally Qualified Health Centers and Rural Health Clinics Can Furnish Telehealth Services after the PHE
  • Make Permanent HHS Temporary Waiver Authority During Emergencies

The letter was highlighted by CQ Health, Inside Health Policy, Fierce Healthcare, Health Leaders, Healthcare Finance News, Becker’s Hospital Review, Healthcare IT News and + Mass Device

Letter to Chairman Alexander: (6/26) – The Alliance sent a letter to Senate Health, Education, Labor & Pensions (HELP) Committee Chairman Alexander (R-TN) with recommendations to prepare for the next pandemic.  This was in response to a June 9, white paper on future pandemics that asked for additional recommendations Congress can consider and act on this year.  The Alliance advised Congress to:

  • Make permanent the HHS temporary telehealth waiver authority during emergencies
  • Facilitate telehealth care across state borders
  • Expand broadband funding to ensure access to care

In the News: Executive Director Krista Drobac was quoted in a The Lund Report article on the explosive growth of telehealth and concerns about potential fraud. The article notes that rollbacks in telehealth regulations could prove controversial and affect patient safety, “A crisis always spawns fraudsters,” said Krista Drobac. She said the alliance hopes “to show the value of telehealth” and help win wide acceptance of virtual visits to doctors. Dr. Joseph Kvedar said virtual visits at Partners Healthcare have jumped from 1,600 virtual visits in February 2019 to 90,000 in March, a more than 5,000% increase.

    Federal Agency Telehealth Activity / Guidance

    The Alliance for Connected Care continues to update a COVID-19 website tracking guidance.

    Federal Communications Commission (FCC): (6/30) – FCC announced it is adding $197.98 million in funding to the Rural Health Care Program. The Program provides funding to eligible health care providers for telecommunications and broadband services necessary for the provision of health care. FCC noted that growing interest in the program for high-speed broadband has outpaced the funding cap, placing a strain on the Program’s ability to increase access to broadband for health care providers, especially in rural areas. View more information on the Rural Health Care Program here.

    CMS: (6/30) – CMS posted new frequently asked questions (FAQs) on Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). The questions cover a range of topics including many on telehealth.

    FCC: (7/1) – FCC approved the thirteenth set of COVID-19 Telehealth Program applications, funding an additional 70 health care providers. To date, FCC’s COVID-19 Telehealth Program has funded 514 health care providers in 46 states and D.C. for a total of $189.27 million in funding. FCC announced last week that it will no longer accept applications for funding from the COVID-19 Telehealth Program. List of awards.

    Department of Veterans Affairs: (6/2) – VA once again highlighted the 1,000% increase in telehealth appointments. Of particular note, VA highlighted that it has conducted more telehealth visits in March, 2020 than in all of 2019.

      Congressional Activity and Legislation

      The Alliance for Connected Care continues to update a recent telehealth legislation page.

      TREATS Act (S. 4103): (6/30) – Sens. Portman (R-OH) and Whitehouse (D-RI) introduced the Telehealth Response for E-prescribing Addiction Therapy Services (TREATS) Act (S. 4103), which would increase the use of telehealth for substance use disorder treatment. View the press release here. Bill text will be linked on the Alliance website when posted.

      Letter: (7/2) – Sens. Smith (D-MN) and Cassidy (R-LA) led 36 bipartisan Senators in a letter to HHS Secretary Azar and CMS Administrator Verma to provide Congress with a written plan and timeline about any potential changes to Medicare rules governing telehealth. The Senators also wrote encouraging the Administration to consider how permanent changes to telehealth policy can be part of a broader movement including toward value-based care. View the press release here.

      News and Reports

      mHealthIntelligence: (6/30) – According to a recent survey, 40 percent of dentists said they are using telehealth now to stay in touch with patients or intend to use telehealth soon. The survey notes that dentists are among the hardest it healthcare profession during the COVID-19 crisis and almost all of those who completed the survey said they expect the industry to see long-term changes as a result. View the full survey here.

      Washington Examiner: (6/30) – Illinois launched a program to provide telehealth services to COVID-19 patients that did not require hospitalizations, and according a survey, 71 percent of patients were happy with the results.

      Healthcare IT News: (7/1) – With many barriers lifted during COVID-19, and with the use of telehealth technologies, a New Jersey-based FQHC has seen positive effects. Lee Ruszczyk, senior director of behavioral health at the Henry J. Austin Health Center said that, “All providers besides dental are working at above the pre-pandemic capacity… [and] more clients are being seen than before the pandemic.”

      National Law Review: (7/1) –  The Massachusetts Board of Registration in Medicine approved its first permanent telehealth policy. The Board’s policy provides that: (1) a “face-to-face encounter" is not a pre-requisite for a telehealth visit; and (2) the same standard of care applies to both in-person and telehealth encounters.

      Patient Engagement HIT: (7/1) – According to a new survey of 1,000 patients, nearly three-quarters had experienced their first telehealth visits during the pandemic, and 75 percent reported high satisfaction.

      mHealthIntelligence: (7/2) – Pennsylvania’s House of Representatives is likely to review a second telehealth bill this year. Governor Wolf vetoed a previous telehealth bill in April, 2020 because it would have banned telemedicine abortions. This new legislation strikes that telemedicine abortion language out.

      mHealthIntelligence: (7/2) – A Michigan hospital is using mHealth sensors attached to a patient’s bed to remotely monitor vital signs for COVID-19. The technology was in use prior to COVID-19 for monitoring patients with COPD, asthma and pneumonia, and experts say they expect to continue expanded use of the technology.

      Upcoming Events 

      July 9 – Health IT Leadership Roundtable, “Virtual Care as the New Normal.” Webinar

      July 29 – STAT, “Inside the virtual care boom: What happens when the point of care becomes anywhere?Webinar

      Please subscribe to this newsletter and send any news or events to for inclusion.

      Alliance for Connected Care

      1100 H St NW, Suite 740

      Washington, D.C. 20005

      twitter website

      You received this email because you signed up or registered for one of our events.