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Connected Care Update

September 21, 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 Updates

The Taskforce on Telehealth Policy Final Report: The Taskforce, a multi-stakeholder effort convened by the Alliance for Connected Care, NCQA and ATA issued its final report during a webinar on Tuesday, September 15. The report and release webinar can be viewed here. The Taskforce report was featured in several media articles including from Fierce Healthcare, Becker’s Hospital Review, Healthcare IT News and mHealthIntelligence.

“This report sets the stage for the clear, decisive action from policymakers,” said Krista Drobac, Executive Director of the Alliance for Connected Care. While there is a need for continued data collection and thoughtful regulation, this report demonstrates that both patients and clinicians agree that remote care options should remain available after the public health emergency comes to an end.”

Urge your Representatives to Cosponsor H.R. 7663: Ask your Member of Congress to support and cosponsor commonsense legislation that would ensure Medicare beneficiaries may continue to access care through telehealth after the current health crisis has passed. The Protecting Access to Post-COVID-19 Telehealth Act of 2020 (H.R. 7663) would do just that. 

Legislative Updates

We are tracking these and other bills on the Alliance website.

TREAT Act: (9/17) – Reps. Latta (R-OH) and Dingell (D-MI) introduced the TREAT Act (H.R. 8283), House companion legislation to the Senate version (S. 4421) introduced by Sens. Murphy (D-CT) and Blunt (R-MO), which would provide temporary licensing reciprocity for telehealth and interstate health care treatment. Press release Bill text 

H.R. 8308: (9/17) – Reps. Phillips (D-MN), Chabot (R-OH) and Morelle (D-NY) introduced H.R. 8308, which would require group health plans and health insurance issuers offering group or individual health insurance coverage to provide coverage for services furnished via telehealth if such services would be covered if furnished in-person. 

Suburban Caucus Fall Legislative Platform: (9/16) – Rep. Wagner (R-MO) and Chair of the House Suburban Caucus announced the Suburban Caucus Fall Legislative Platform, which includes ten pieces of legislation. Notably, the platform includes the Telehealth Act (H.R. 7992), which includes a package of nine bills to expand access to telehealth services. Press release Legislative Platform

Federal Agency News

Department of Veterans Affairs: (9/15) – VA announced a new collaboration with Apple to increase veterans’ access to virtual care benefits. To standardize the program and provide veterans a consistent, quality experience, VA will exclusively distribute iPads to veterans. Patients can also securely view and download their personal medical data using the Health Records on iPhone feature from Apple.

National Institutes of Health: (9/15) – NIH awarded seven contracts to companies and academic institutions to develop digital health solutions that help address the COVID-19 pandemic. The work could lead to user-friendly tools such as smartphone apps, wearable devices, and software that can identify and trace contacts of infected individuals, keep track of verified COVID-19 test results, and monitor the health status of infected and potentially infected individuals. If all seven projects were to move into the second phase, the total value of the contracts in this network would be $22.8 million. The awardees have one year to complete both phases.

Research, Surveys, and Telehealth News

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

mHealthIntelligence: (9/14) – Centene and Samsung partnered to equip roughly 200 FQHCs across the country with smartphones and tablets, along with 90 days of free wireless service, to help the centers facilitate telehealth meetings with patients who have problems accessing healthcare. “We believe telehealth solutions will significantly improve access to care and are pleased that we can help give providers the telehealth infrastructure they need to take care of underserved communities across the nation,” Michael F. Neidorff, chairman, president and CEO of St. Louis-based Centene, said in a press release.

MobiHealthNews: (9/14) – Researchers at NVIDIA are working on an automated speech recognition and natural language processing technology that can transcribe and organize information from a telemedicine visit both for the patient and clinicians.

Microsoft: (9/15) – Microsoft and Nuance Communications announced the integration of Dragon Ambient eXperience, an ambient clinical intelligence (ACI) solution that is now integrated into Microsoft Teams to broadly scale virtual consults aimed at increasing physician wellness and providing better patient health outcomes.

PRNewswire: (9/15) – launched an online portal for patients in California to see a doctor 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The 24HourDocs physicians are U.S. licensed physicians who are board certified in their respective fields. In addition to General Medical Care and Urgent Care, also provides specialists in Mental Health and Gastroenterology and can treat over 100 different non-emergency conditions.

KTUL: (9/15) – New numbers from the Oklahoma Health Care Authority show from March to June of 2019, nearly 12,000 telehealth visits were conducted. In March to June of 2020, the numbers jumped to more than 337,000. "I do think that stat itself is indicative of the future of telemedicine," said Rhett Stover, CEO of OSU Medicine.

Versant Health: (9/15) - Versant Health released a new white paper explaining how virtual eye care is evolving to meet patient needs. The white paper explores scenarios in which ocular telemedicine can appropriately aid ongoing eye care and augment in-person visits. The paper notes that ocular telemedicine is not a replacement for in-office visits with eye-care professionals; instead, it enhances in-office visits by strengthening the ongoing relationship between patients and providers.

Vivify Health: (9/15) – Vivify Health released a new white paper that examines the accelerated adoption of telemedicine and RPM during the COVID-19 pandemic and provides strategies to help some of the nation's largest health systems and providers promote aging in place and strengthen hospital home care programs through telehealth and RPM solutions.

STAT: (9/16) – The rise in remote patient monitoring devices and the patient-consumer is driving a shift in the way health care is delivered. “Millions of Americans suddenly asked themselves, ‘Can I solve this care need without showing up in person?’” said Sean Duffy, chief executive officer and co-founder of Omada Health, a virtual diabetes care provider. “That consumer expectation change is going to be the thing that writes history the quickest.”

Doximity: (9/16) – Doximity published its "2020 State of Telemedicine Report," a comprehensive analysis of telehealth trends in the U.S. since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. The report includes a patient survey of over 2,000 U.S. respondents on their attitudes towards telehealth. The study found that 20% of all medical visits will be conducted via telemedicine in 2020, which accounts for more than $29.3 billion of medical services this year alone. Medical services costs for telehealth could increase by 265% in the next three years to $106 billion in 2023. In addition, the number of physicians reporting telemedicine as a skill increased by 38 percent from 2019-20, nearly doubling the 20 percent annual growth rate recorded over the past five years. Read the Healthcare Dive article for more information.

Stanford Health Care: (9/17) – In addition to modifying surgical visits, doctors at Stanford Health Care are increasingly turning to telemedicine, to ensure patients won’t be exposed to the COVID-19 virus during a consultation.

mHealthIntelligence: (9/17) - Lori Baker, MSOL, MSW, director of ambulatory care management, senior services, and post-acute network at TriHealth highlights her health system’s digital transformation process in a recent episode of Healthcare Strategies. TriHealth also recently implemented PointClickCare in its EHR. The technology enables information from a recently discharged patient to automatically transfer to a nursing facility.

American Board of Telehealth (ABT): (9/17) – ABT launched the CORE Concepts in Telehealth Certificate Program, the first certificate made available by the newly formed ABT. 

In case you missed it:  

The Association of State and Territorial Health Officials published a brief on the Impact of Telehealth on Maternity Care offering ways states can improve access to maternal care.

Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association
published a study showing that black people were more likely to self-report telehealth use in response to the novel coronavirus pandemic.  The data comes from a Pew Research Center conducted the survey of more than 10,000 people.  

Upcoming Events

September 24 – Definitive Healthcare, “COVID-19 As a Digital Transformer:  Telehealth Accelerates & There’s No Looking Back,” 2:00 PM ET

September 29  Health Resources and Services Administration, Telehealth for HIV Care

September 29 – October 1 – Vitra Health, “Beyond Telemedicine, Transforming health through a virtual care revolution.” Conference

Recording of the Task Force on Telehealth Public Release Last Week

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