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Connected Care Update

November 30, 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 News

PLEASE SIGN-ON to Consensus Principles on Telehealth Across State Lines

The Alliance for Connected Care seeks your support on an open letter to U.S. State and Federal Policymakers calling for care across state lines to support patients and empower healthcare professionals.

This high-level statement is intended to call attention to the need for telehealth care across state lines, through solutions that allow for mutual recognition of health professional licensure. Please sign here. Please also feel free to share this opportunity with others.

Read more about this statement featured in mHealthIntelligence.

    Federal Updates

    HHS Office of Inspector General (OIG): (11/23) – HHS Office of Inspector General (OIG) issued a report noting challenges opioid treatment programs (OTPs) reported during the COVID-19 pandemic related to, among other things, implementing and using telehealth. Of the 142 OTPs that were interviewed, 87 reported challenges in implementing telehealth for both staff and patients, as well as in using telehealth for counseling services and check-ins. OTPs also identified additional flexibilities they would like to have including the option to use telehealth as a replacement for in-person physical examinations for prescribing medication-assisted treatment (MAT) and the ability to provide telehealth services without having to use video conferencing and have additional options available for communicating with patients. Read the summary with link to report.

    National Cybersecurity Center of Excellence and the National Institute for Standards and Technology: (11/16) – The NCCoE released a draft of the NIST Cybersecurity Practice Guide open for public comment. The guide explains how healthcare organizations can best implement cybersecurity and privacy controls around remote patient monitoring. The goal of this project is to provide a practical solution for securing the telehealth RPM ecosystem. The project team will perform a risk assessment on a representative RPM ecosystem in the laboratory environment, apply the NIST Cybersecurity Framework and guidance based on medical device standards, and collaborate with industry and public partners. Comments are due by December 18. View additional information and comment here.

    mHealth Intelligence on Stark Law and Anti-Kickback Statute: (11/24) – mHealth Intelligence posted a summary of the Stark Law and Anti-Kickback Statute. As noted last week, the Department of Health and Human Services issued a final rule on the Anti-Kickback Statute and Civil Monetary Penalty Rules Regarding Beneficiary Inducements. The Alliance for Connected Care focused on four priority areas for telehealth and remote patient monitoring in our comments on the proposed rule last December. View the HHS press release and fact sheet. Analysis of the final regulation will be shared in the coming weeks.

      State Telehealth News

      mHealth Intelligence: (11/25) – Lawmakers in New Jersey expanded telehealth guidelines in the state to allow more health care providers to use connected health technologies during the COVID-19 public health emergency (PHE). The new telehealth standards, adopted by the Division of Consumer Affairs last month, would allow health care professionals including audiologists, speech language pathologists, acupuncturists, physical therapists, psychologists, social workers, genetic counselors, and nurses, to practice telehealth through the duration of the PHE.

      mHealth Intelligence: (11/23) – Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers unveiled a new COVID-19 relief package including a bill that would require coverage parity for telehealth services delivered through the end of 2021. The bill would prohibit health plans from denying coverage for telehealth services if the service is covered by the plan when provided in person.

      News Channel 8 Tulsa: (11/23) – The COVID-19 pandemic enabled Family and Children’s Services in Tulsa, Oklahoma the opportunity to quickly transition to telehealth to better reach rural residents in the state. The transition to telehealth to reach these populations was part of a five-year plan implemented prior to the pandemic, however was accelerated within two weeks of the public health emergency being declared in the state. Telehealth visits increased from 6,000 in January 2020 to 63,000 by April 2020.

      mHealth Intelligence: (11/20) – Virginia Governor Ralph Northam signed legislation to eliminate originating site restrictions for telehealth visits in an effort to expand telehealth coverage during the public health emergency. The legislation would also eliminate the requirement that patients be accompanied by a health care provider during a telehealth visit. The law took effect immediately and will remain in effect through July 1, 2021.

      Papers, Surveys, and Studies

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

      TransUnion: (11/19) – A new TransUnion Healthcare report finds emergency department visits remain well below pre-COVID-19 volumes, while popularity of telehealth services grows. The majority of telehealth patients surveyed said they used virtual health services in place of visiting their primary care physician office (60%), and an additional 8% of respondents utilized telehealth instead of visiting the emergency department.

      Journal of American Medical Informatics (JAMIA): (11/18) – A recently published JAMIA paper argues that design, implementation and policy considerations must be taken into account when developing virtual care technology. Telehealth may also exacerbate inequities faced by the disability community. "There remains a pressing need to explicitly consider how changes in the prevalence and ubiquity of telehealth impact people with disabilities," wrote the authors. Read more in Healthcare IT News.

      Telehealth News and Market Developments

      Modern Healthcare: (11/28) – Modern Healthcare interviewed Kevin Mahoney, CEO of the University of Pennsylvania Health System about lessons learned in the fight against COVID-19 and policy priorities for President-elect Joe Biden. “For sure patients will embrace it; our physicians and staff will embrace it,” Mahoney noted when speaking about continued use of telehealth post-pandemic. On the list of issues Mahoney would like to see high on President-elect Joe Biden’s healthcare agenda: Things that improve access to care need to be high on the agenda. The barriers to entry and access show the racial divide, the digital divide in telemedicine.

      Becker’s Health IT: (11/24) – Cerner is offering a new video visit platform to rural hospitals that use its CommunityWorks EHR at no cost through 2021.

      New York Times: (11/23) – Dr. Frakt, director of the Partnered Evidence-Based Policy Resource Center at the VA Boston Healthcare System issued an op-ed explaining how telemedicine may increase the ability of physicians to see more patients, quicker. A Veterans Health Administration study found that same-day access to primary care was associated with fewer emergency visits for conditions that weren’t true emergencies. If the shift to greater use of telemedicine continues after the pandemic, it could reduce reliance on the emergency room, Dr. Frakt notes.

      Health Affairs: (11/23) - Undocumented communities are fearful of accessing care. The current COVID-19 pandemic is further shining a spotlight on these inequities, with immigrants having emerged as disparately affected. Addressing privacy concerns may be central to the success of telehealth use among undocumented immigrants.

      Upcoming Events

      December 2, mHealthIntelligence, “Webcast: The New Health Care Imperative: Optimizing Access Across Business Lines.

      December 7, National Consortium of Telehealth Resource Centers, “NCTRC Telehealth Hack - Building Lasting Telehealth Programs on College Campuses.

      December 8, CDC, The Impact of Telehealth on Health Equity from the Perspective of Large Healthcare Systems during the COVID-19 Pandemic.

      December 11, AHIP, “Digital Engagement through Digital Communications.”

      Past Events

      Pitch Book, The Rapid Rise of Telehealth During COVID-19.” Dr. Janine Knudsen, a primary care doctor at Bellevue Hospital in New York City, and Activant Capital founder and partner Steve Sarracino discuss advancements in telehealth brought on by the pandemic.

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

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