Inside Telehealth: Expanding Care In The Home Act Hinges On Telehealth Expansion (4/19) - Reps. Smith (R-NE) and Dingell (D-MI) previewed the bipartisan Expanding Care in the Home Act (ECHA), which would permanently advance in-home care. Home health stakeholders said at a press briefing that telehealth, health technologies and remote patient monitoring are essential to the success of in-home health services, so advocating for permanent telehealth legislation and new RPM codes will have a significant impact on home health availability. Moving Health Home, a cross-sector group that includes more than 20 companies and health systems, led the charge on this bill. Moving Health Home is a sister coalition to the Alliance for Connected Care.
Politico: It's Too Soon To Judge Telehealth's Performance (4/17) - In the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC) April public meeting, Commissioners said it's too early to judge telehealth's performance on the pandemic-driven expansion of virtual care. Commissioners said the available data doesn’t show that telehealth improved the quality of care or reduced costs. Medicare doesn’t have data on lab results or patient-reported outcomes, and COVID surges confounded the results. MedPAC will send its final report on telehealth to Congress in June.
April 26, 2023 10:15 ET
The House Committee on Education & The Workforce, Subcommittee on Health, Employment, Labor, and Pensions will host a hearing, titled "Reducing Health Care Costs for Working Americans and Their Families." The hearing will discuss the Telehealth Benefit Expansion for Workers Act (H.R. 824), among other items.
Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (ASPE): Updated National Survey Trends in Telehealth Utilization and Modality (4/20) - This report updates prior findings on national trends of telehealth use through an analysis using the Census Bureau’s Household Pulse Survey data from April 2021 through August 2022. Compared to earlier periods in the pandemic, telehealth utilization was lower during the study period (April 14, 2021 through August 8, 2022), but continued to remain above pre-pandemic levels. The highest rates of telehealth visits were among those covered by Medicaid (28.3 percent) and Medicare (26.8 percent), individuals who are Black (26.1 percent), and those earning less than $25,000 (26.4 percent). The report also emphasized the importance of audio-only telehealth for addressing disparities in populations and across insurance types.
The Hill: Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Becerra Wants Latinos to Talk About Mental Health (4/18) - HHS Secretary Becerra wants more Hispanic families to proactively address mental health to overcome the structural and cultural barriers that have undermined diagnosing and treating mental illnesses in the community. HHS Secretary Becerra noted mental health care has benefitted from telehealth during the COVID pandemic. HHS Secretary Becerra urges Congress to extend pandemic-related telehealth measures.
Telehealth Research, Reports and Surveys
Annals of Internal Medicine: Performance Measures for Physicians Providing Clinical Care Using Telemedicine: A Position Paper From the American College of Physicians (4/18) - The American College of Physicians (ACP)published a policy paper which details new recommendations to ensure that measures developed to gauge telemedicine services are evidence-based, methodologically sound and clinically meaningful. The focus of this paper is telemedicine services provided in an ambulatory care environment, including via interactive audio and video telecommunications systems. ACP recommends that:
Performance measures used to evaluate quality of care provided by a physician at a telemedicine visit should adhere to the same principles and criteria as for an in-person ambulatory care visit.
Performance measures be evaluated to determine whether care delivered in a telemedicine setting should be included in the specifications, with careful consideration of how this might impact measure actionability or lead to unintended consequences.
Mechanisms be put in place so that physicians, and their information systems, can have access to information generated at a telemedicine visit before a performance measure is used to evaluate quality of care.
Performance measure testing must be conducted for a measure deemed appropriate to evaluate quality of care provided by a physician at a telemedicine visit.
Telemedicine visits be incorporated into measure attribution logic (for example, individual physician, group practice level, and health plan).
Performance measures used to evaluate quality of care provided by a physician at a telemedicine visit should not marginalize under-resourced communities already affected by the “digital divide”.
Oncology Nursing News: Older Patients Are Comfortable With Telehealth and Prefer It as an Option (4/18) - A survey by Independa, a health care technology company, found that adults older than 70 years had a high comfort level with telehealth and preferred having it as an option. Of those surveyed, 93 percent of adults older than 70 years said they would like a telehealth option compared with 84 percent who said the same thing in 2022. Approximately 86 percent of older adults had a telehealth appointment in the past year compared with 75 percent in 2021. Of those who had a telehealth appointment, 85 percent enjoyed the experience compared with 74 percent in 2020. Findings indicate a new norm to deliver more flexible and personalized health and wellness options for older adults.
Cureus: The Use of Telemedicine in Medical Education and Patient Care (4/18) - The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated and expanded the adoption of telemedicine globally. This allowed telemedicine to engage medical students in patient care and ensured continuity of care for vulnerable patients. This article reviews the major facilitators and barriers any medical and educational institution must address when using telemedicine, and explores future promises telemedicine has for medical education.
Telehealth News and Market Developments
Forbes: Why SMS Messaging Provides a Reliable Future for Telehealth (4/21) - The future of health care will have to be patient-centered, which is why it’s crucial that health care providers invest in and comply with communication systems that can streamline processes for patients. A simple text message can go a long way in building trust with patients and promoting continuity of care. As technology advances, providers should continue to consider new innovative ways to conduct telehealth, while maintaining communication between patients through text messages.
Forbes: Telehealth Goes Mainstream: The Role Of Real-Time Communications (RTC) In Bridging The Health Care Gap (4/20) - As technology continues to evolve, so does its impact on the health care industry. Real-time communication (RTC), namely audio or video remote communication technologies, has emerged as a transformative force in health care, enabling remote access to medical services and bridging gaps in health care access. With the rise of telehealth and the increasing demand for accessible and timely health care services, RTC technology has become essential in addressing industry expectations.
Health Affairs: Maintaining Telehealth Care For Opioid Use Disorder Is Critical (4/19) - Annual deaths from opioid-involved overdose increased dramatically during the COVID-19 pandemic. To protect themselves from opioid-involved overdose, millions of Americans need immediate access to—and ongoing treatment with—medications for opioid use disorder (MOUD). However, telehealth companies have intentionally limited company growth because of uncertainty regarding telehealth regulations after the COVID-19 PHE. Employees from Boulder Care and Ophelia Health outline their concerns of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) rule in this Health Affairs blog post.
University of Rochester Medical Center: Telemedicine Extends Reach of Stroke and Neurological Care (4/19) - University of Rochester (UR) Medicine neurologists are providing remote acute and inpatient neurological care for 16 hospitals across upstate New York, creating one of the more comprehensive hub-and-spoke networks. The telestroke program allows UR Medicine neurologists to review brain imaging and other medical data to make recommendations about care, such as intravenous thrombolysis and endovascular therapy, and whether the patient should be transferred to Strong Memorial Hospital for more advanced care or can remain at the original hospital. Unlike many telestroke programs, the UR Medicine service continues in a consultative role at many of its partner sites, ensuring that patients continue to receive high quality care. The telestroke services provided by UR Medicine have helped several partner hospitals receive Primary Stroke Center certification from the Joint Commission.
The Wall Street Journal: Planned Curbs on Telehealth Prescriptions Speak Backlash (4/17) - The DEA plans to resume tighter limits on the prescribing of controlled substances through telehealth has spurred a backlash from some medical and patient advocacy groups who say the requirements would create barriers to care. Pressure from critics appears to be spurring some changes. A Biden Administration official with knowledge of the plans said that the Administration intends to expand the amount of time that patients taking buprenorphine have to show up to an in-person appointment, though the official couldn’t say how many days the new requirement would allow. Still, a number of medical groups say the in-person mandate isn’t the solution to possible fraud. They say the DEA has rushed through the proposal, which got about 35,000 comments during a 30-day public comment period. Check out the Alliance's snapshot of the comments here.
State Telehealth News
Inside Telehealth: States Move Towards Compacts, Broadband Programs, Medicaid Telehealth Expansion (4/17) - Since the beginning of the year, nearly all states have proposed new telehealth legislation, attempting to create permanent regulations informed by the pandemic. States also are expanding participation in specialty compacts to facilitate interstate telehealth, and several states are now affirming that out-of-state practitioners can be enrolled as Medicaid providers without having an in-state address. Legislation that has been introduced in states include those related to compacts and interstate licensing, out-of-state telehealth providers in Medicaid, broadband legislation, telehealth prescribing of controlled substances, and remote monitoring.
Brookings Institute: The Economic Impact of the Opioid Epidemic: Labor Supply and the Workforce(4/18) - On April 18, the USC-Brookings Schaeffer Initiative for Health Policy welcomed Dr. Rahul Gupta, director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), and Julie Wernau of the Wall Street Journal for a fireside chat on the opioid epidemic’s impact on the labor force and how workplaces can become recovery-friendly. ONDCP Director Gupta said creating in-office space for telehealth visits is a critical way for employers to support employees with opioid use disorder. For additional coverage, see Inside Telehealth.
Brookings Institute: Wall Street Comes to Washington Health Care Roundtable(4/13) - On Wednesday, April 13, the USC-Brookings Schaeffer Initiative for Health Policy hosted the 26th Wall Street Comes to Washington health care roundtable. Designed to bridge the worlds of Wall Street and Washington health policy, an expert panel of equity analysts, moderated by Brookings nonresident senior fellow Paul B. Ginsburg, discussed market trends shaping the health care system and the impact of federal policies on health care companies. Topics included lessons learned from the pandemic and the growing role of telehealth and other digital health technologies, among others.