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Connected Care Update

August 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.

The Taskforce on Telehealth Policy a multi-stakeholder effort convened by the Alliance for Connected Care, NCQA and ATA is holding a Public Policy Comment Town Hall on August 4 at 1pm ET. Register for the event here.

Other Taskforce News:

The Taskforce on Telehealth Policy Subgroup on Expanding Telehealth and its Effect on Total Cost of Care seeks to demonstrate what we have learned about telehealth utilization, substitution effects, and cost-related outcomes related to no-show rates, care plan adherence, prevention, etc. Our goal is to educate a conversation about what impact expanding telehealth access in Medicare will have on federal budgeting models. We are seeking data in the following areas:

  1. To what extent is telehealth serving as a replacement for in-person case?
  2. How many telehealth visits result in follow-up care vs. a resolved issue?
  3. To what extent does access to telehealth care change patient behavior/increase consumer utilization of services otherwise offered in person?
  4. To what extent can data experts examine telehealth care while discounting both COVID-care and delayed elective procedures?

Congressional Activity and Legislation

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

Telehealth Modernization Act (S. 4375): (7/30) – Senate HELP Committee Chair Alexander (R-TN) introduced the Telehealth Modernization Act (S. 4375), which would make permanent a number of telehealth flexibilities under the Medicare program related to the COVID-19 public health emergency. View the press release.

  • “The COVID-19 pandemic has led to one of the most dramatic developments in the delivery of medical services ever,” Senate HELP Committee Chair Alexander (R-TN) said. “Congress should learn from these four months of lessons, which will likely mean that hundreds of millions of physician-patient visits will be remote or online that were in-person before.”
  • Politico quoted Alliance for Connected Care Executive Director Krista Drobac calling Alexander's effort "bold legislation to ensure American seniors have ongoing access to telehealth."

VA Telehealth Expansion Act (H.R. 7879): (7/30) – Reps. Lee (D-NV), Banks (R-IN), Steil (R-WI) and Torres Small (D-NM) introduced the VA Telehealth Expansion Act (H.R. 7879), which would direct the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to establish a grant program to expand and improve the provision of telehealth services to veterans. View the press release and fact sheet.

The Senate Veterans Affairs Committee (7/29) held a Hearing on Telehealth During and Beyond COVID-19:  Challenges and Opportunities in Rural America.  Senators discussed VA telehealth programs, the need to collect data on expanded services, and efforts to ensure access to veterans with connectivity issues. 

News and Reports

Health Leaders: (7/27) – A recent survey of nearly 1,000 healthcare professionals in 35 medical specialties found almost three-quarters of respondents say their organization has increased their use of telehealth services due to COVID-19, and almost half say they have invested in new technology solutions to be able to communicate with patients remotely.

mHealthIntelligence: (7/27) – The Alliance for Connected Care and other digital health group Legislative Advocacy Kickoff with the House Telehealth Caucus last week was highlighted in this article, which also highlights the multitude of actions surrounding making telehealth flexibilities enacted during COVID-19 permanent and increasing funding for FCC’s COVID-19 Telehealth Program.

    Healthcare Dive: (7/27) – Healthcare Dive examined the state of telehealth six months into declaration of the PHE, including federal and state flexibilities and what may be made permanent. The article is part of a series examining the state of healthcare six months into the PHE declaration.

    Fast Company: (7/27) – Dr. Mimi Winsberg, Cofounder and Chief Medical Officer of Brightside, a mental health telemedicine service issued an op-ed highlighting the use of telemental health during COVID-19 and the impact on reducing mental health stigma. The op-ed also discussed the use of telehealth to manage chronic conditions.

    HSC News: (7/27) – The Keck Medicine of USC lung transplant team launched a two-year observational pilot study to monitor patients post-discharge using Bluetooth-enabled devices and computer tablets. The devices measured blood pressure, heart rate, weight, blood glucose, oxygen saturation and pulmonary function. The researchers discovered that monitored patients had 44% fewer hospital readmissions and spent 54% fewer days in the hospital when they were readmitted.

    Becker’s Hospital Review: (7/27) – Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota announced that they will extend eligibility for expanded telehealth coverage for behavioral health services, medication management and physical, speech and occupational therapy through December 31 of this year. The health insurer is also covering all telehealth services for Blue Cross members at the same reimbursement rate as in-person visits.

    HIT Consultant: (7/28) – The Alliance Executive Director Krista Drobac was quoted in support of the Protecting Access to Post-COVID-19 Telehealth Act.The Protecting Access to Post-COVID-19 Telehealth Act will ensure that this access does not disappear once the coronavirus emergency is over,” she said in the announcement. Krista Drobac, executive director of the Alliance for Connected Care, noted that telehealth services have been a lifeline for more than 9 million seniors during the COVID-19 pandemic, the article notes.

      Better Medicare Alliance: (7/28) – BMA released a report on telehealth usage amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The report finds that Medicare Advantage’s risk-based structure allowed for faster adoption of telehealth services during the COVID-19 pandemic and was particularly useful in expanding telehealth in the behavioral health sector. The report also outlines five policy recommendations for improving telehealth adoption. View the press release and report.

      HIT Infrastructure: (7/28) – NTT DATA Services recently announced a partnership with Teladoc Health, R1 RCM, Enli, and VisitPay to build Nucleus for Healthcare, a framework that provides advanced digital capabilities across the care delivery continuum and allows organizations to interchange solution components as clinical and business needs evolve.

      mHealthIntelligence: (7/28) – Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts announced that it has added telemental health services to its telehealth platform, will expand access to an mHealth platform that helps address mild to moderate mental health concerns and will maintain reimbursement parity for telehealth visits – including those done over a phone – beyond the coronavirus pandemic.

      Health Leaders: (7/28) – A new survey finds that 91% of survey respondents who have had a telehealth appointment were likely to schedule another telehealth appointment instead of an in-person visit, and more than 90% of survey respondents said they were satisfied with their overall telehealth visit experience.

      STAT News: (7/29) – Dr. Dorothy Novick, M.D., a pediatrician in Philadelphia issued an op-ed on the shift to telehealth, which has been essential to continuing to provide care at a distance, is convenient and reduces transportation barriers, but has highlighted what may be lost in a virtual visit such as human touch and the ability to examine patients in-person.

      Fierce Healthcare: (7/29) – Anthem CEO Gail Boudreaux said on a call with investors Wednesday that use of telemedicine for behavioral health among its members is 56 times higher than that of pre-COVID-19 levels. Virtual visits are up 300% compared to pre-COVID-19 levels.

      Forbes: (7/29) – An op-ed in Forbes suggests that telehealth will become a permanent part of our future, but may not be until payers’ and providers’ goals are aligned with a market-based model.

      HIT Consultant: (7/29) – Philips announced the launch of its remote monitoring and defibrillator solution for pre-hospital settings in the U.S. The software platform provides real-time transfer of clinical data and events, interactive ECG measurement, and two-way communication, enabling rapid clinical and transport decision support and seamless electronic patient care recording (ePCR) integration outside the hospital in emergency settings.

      Post Register: (7/29) – The Idaho Telehealth Task Force, assembled in July 2019 to analyze the state of telehealth in Idaho and craft recommendations for reform, are considering broadening the legal definition of telehealth. An executive order last month by Gov. Brad Little permanently lifted many telehealth restrictions, but members of the task force think there’s still room to improve.

      mHealthIntelligence: (7/30) – Connecticut lawmakers have approved a bill which would extend several telehealth flexibilities until next March, saying they want to study the issue more before addressing permanent coverage. The bill now heads to the Governors desk for signature.

      mHealthIntelligence: (7/31) – Senate HELP Committee Chair Alexander (R-TN) introduced the Telehealth Modernization Act (S. 4375), which would make permanent certain telehealth flexibilities under the Medicare program related to the COVID-19 public health emergency.  The article also mentions the Taskforce on Telehealth Policy's work and the 340 group telehealth advocacy letter, co-led by the Alliance which called for telehealth access created during the COVID-19 pandemic to be made permanent

      White Paper Release: The New Normal of Care Delivery

      How COVID-19 Accelerated the Adoption and Use of Virtual Care and What’s Next

      Last week, 13 leading associations and non-profits representing patients, clinicians, hospitals, health plans, and technology companies released a roadmap for building on the “new normal” of virtual care delivery post-COVID-19 pandemic.

      Download the White Paper and View Event Recording

      Upcoming Events

      August 4 – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention “Clinician Outreach and Communication Activity webinar on telehealth’s benefits and challenges, based on lessons learned during the COVID-19 pandemic.” Webinar

      August 4,  1:00 - 3:00 PM ET Taskforce on Telehealth Policy Public Comment Town Hall.   Register Here

      Share your thoughts on telehealth’s key policy questions post-COVID-19 at the Taskforce on Telehealth Policy Public Comment Town Hall.

      Through this virtual session, telehealth stakeholders can share their views on the challenges and opportunities that have emerged with the explosion of telehealth use during the COVID-19 pandemic and identify policies that will advance its safe and effective use.

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

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