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.
Politico: (5/4) – The Alliance for Connected Care’s Executive Director Krista Drobac expresses her frustration with conveying telehealth data to lawmakers. “As advocates, we’re pulling our hair out because we have data and we have information about fraud, and it doesn’t seem to be getting through,” said Krista Drobac, executive director of Alliance for Connected Care. “Who is the messenger they would listen to?”
Federal Communications Commission (FCC): (5/3) – FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr applauded the reintroduction of the Creating Opportunities Now for Necessary and Effective Care Technologies (CONNECT) for Health Act of 2021 introduced in the Senate that would make permanent telehealth flexibilities that were made available during the COVID-19 pandemic and expand coverage of telehealth services. “I expect that the momentum for delivering care directly to patients outside the confines of brick-and-mortar facilities will continue to build well after this devastating pandemic ends, Commissioner Carr said.
US Senator John Boozman (R-AR) Weekly Column: Time to Modernize Telehealth Policy: (5/8) – Sen. Boozman (R-AR) talks about modernizing telehealth policy in his weekly column. “The public health emergency has made it clear more must be done to improve and expand access to this manner of health care delivery,” the Senator said. “We must ensure health care providers and patients have the requisite tools and resources while also modernizing federal policy to support the growing demand for telehealth.”
House Oversight & Reform Committee, “Birthing While Black: Examining America’s Black Maternal Health Crisis.” This past week, the House Oversight & Reform Committee held a hearing to examine the maternal mortality and morbidity crisis experienced by Black birthing people in America and to evaluate the need for comprehensive reforms and investments at the federal level to ensure the health and prosperity of Black mothers and Black families across the United States. Witnesses and members of Congress noted equitable access to telehealth and remote patient monitoring being a solution to black maternal health. Watch the recording and read witness statements here.
State Telehealth Legislation
mHealth Intelligence: (5/7) – Washington Governor Jay Inslee signed telehealth legislation (HB 1196) that would require payers to cover certain audio-only telehealth services, so long as the provider and patient have established a relationship through an in-person exam within the past year. The bill’s primary sponsor, state Rep. Marcus Riccelli, said the bill will help patients in rural and underserved areas whose only reliable option for accessing telehealth is via audio-only services.
mHealth Intelligence: (5/6) – Arizona Governor Doug Ducey signed a major telehealth bill (HB 2454) into law this week, which would greatly expand telehealth services in the state and make permanent several emergency flexibilities enacted at the start of the pandemic. The bill includes several provisions, including that it establishes payment parity for many telehealth services, prevents an in-person exam requirement before a telehealth visit, establishes coverage for audio-only telehealth services in Medicare and Medicaid for 2021, and allows providers licensed and in good standing with their state medical boards to treat patients in Arizona by registering with the applicable state-based regulatory board.
My Record Journal: (5/6) – A bill passed the Connecticut Senate this week that would temporarily extend telehealth services that were expanded during the COVID-19 pandemic for two more years. Provisions such as requiring insurance coverage for virtual medical appointments, allowing providers licensed in other states to provide telehealth services in Connecticut, and allowing certain providers to conduct virtual visits using audio-only telephone modalities would continue through June 30, 2023. Governor Ned Lamont is expected to sign this bill.
Oklahoma News 4: (5/6) – Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt signed Senate Bill 674 into law, which will ensure payment parity for physicians providing services to patients via telemedicine. The bill, which will help Oklahomans in urban areas and improve access to care for Oklahomans across the state, will go into effect on November 1.
JD Supra: (5/4) – New York State, like many others across the country, quickly pivoted to using telehealth throughout the pandemic. Prior to COVID, New York strictly regulated what services could be delivered via telehealth, which providers could utilize telehealth, and which modalities were permissible. Such policies were loosened to meet the needs of patients during the pandemic, and lawmakers are continuing to consider legislation to expand telehealth moving forward. Recently, the legislature has expanded the list of services that can be delivered via telehealth, removed limitations on originating sites, and is considering legislation addressing reimbursement and permissible modalities for telehealth services.
Healthcare Dive: (5/6) – The Future Health Index survey, conducted by Philips in December and January and published this past week, gives an outlook on health leaders' priorities during the pandemic and what the new normal could look like as investments shift post-COVID-19. The survey found particularly strong interest in building out virtual care offerings. Currently, 64% of health executives say they're focusing on telehealth when it comes to their digital health investments. But in the next three years, only 40% expect to invest heavily in virtual care, while AI emerges as a key area for investment: 36% of respondents to the survey of 3,000 C-suite executives and other healthcare leaders say AI is a priority today, but that grows to 74% by 2024.
Fair Health: (5/5) – Telehealth utilization among the commercially insured fell 15% from January to February, the first month-to-month drop since September, according to a tracker from nonprofit Fair Health.
Healthcare IT News: (5/3) – Healthcare IT News interviewed Sweeney-Platt, vice president of research and editorial strategy at athenahealth, on the subjects of telemedicine adoption, utilization, scheduling and permanence, seeking her expertise and lessons learned from athenahealth's treasure trove of telehealth data. With 18.4 million appointments over the past 12 months, the vendor's VP of research identified trends in telemedicine and notes that, “telehealth will have great staying power, because it provides flexibility, convenience and lower-cost access for those using it.”
Telehealth News and Market Developments
Wall Street Journal: (5/6) – Walmart purchased telehealth provider MeMD and plans to offer nationwide virtual health care services. The acquisition will allow Walmart to expand its Walmart Health service around the country, the company said.
mHealth Intelligence: (5/5) – Ochsner Health is partnering with the Louisiana Department of Education to launch a telehealth platform to help teachers and support staff access mental health services. Ochsner Anywhere Care platform will give more than 166,000 public school educators and support staff online access to telemental health at a time when stress and depression are surging.
HIMSS TV, “Employing Digital Tools Without Sacrificing Compassionate Care.” In this episode of HIMSS TV, Franka Cadee, President of the International Confederation of Midwives, talks about the importance of ensuring the use of digital tools in preserving compassionate connections between clinicians and patients.