The Alliance for Connected Care is leading a sign-on letter alongside several other telehealth groups urging Senate leaders to act this fall to ensure certainty for telehealth services by passing a two-year extension of important telehealth policies enacted at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Without action, such policies will expire 151 days after the end of the public health emergency. As demonstrated by the House – which passed the Advancing Telehealth Beyond COVID-19 Act (H.R. 4040) by a vote of 416-12 – telehealth is an overwhelmingly bipartisan issue. The Senate should act to pass legislation that would extend critical telehealth flexibilities, including provisions to lift provider and patient location limitations, remove in-person requirements for telemental health, ensure continued access to clinically appropriate controlled substances without in-person requirements, and increase access to telehealth services in the commercial market. The deadline to sign-on to the letter is COB Monday, September 12.
Elevance Health: Telehealth Utilization in Florida Medicaid from 2019 to 2021 Underscores Opportunity to Improve Access (8/25) - Increased telehealth utilization among Florida’s Medicaid members has persisted past the peaks of the COVID-19 pandemic. In this report, Elevance Health analyzed telehealth utilization data during and post-public health emergency (PHE). This brief analyzes telehealth utilization among Simply Healthcare’s Medicaid members to highlight the demographics of those using these services and opportunities for telehealth to improve accessibility and health care delivery going forward. Findings underscore the opportunity for telehealth to increase access, especially for rural members, older adults, and minority communities.
Urology Practice: Comparison of Patient Satisfaction and Safety Outcomes for Postoperative Telemedicine vs Face-to-Face Visits in Urology: Results of the Randomized Evaluation and Metrics Observing Telemedicine Efficacy (REMOTE) Trial (8/25) – This study evaluated patient satisfaction and outcomes of postoperative face-to-face (F2F) versus telemedicine visits for adult ambulatory urological surgeries in an urban academic center. The study found that while both cohorts were equally satisfied with their postoperative visit, the telemedicine cohort saved a significant amount of time and money associated with travel. The findings suggest telemedicine should be offered as an alternative to F2F for routine postoperative care for certain ambulatory urological surgeries.
Center for Health Care Strategies: Supporting Technology-Enabled Innovation in Medicaid Managed Care to Improve Quality and Equity: State Considerations (8/24) – Through the Medicaid Innovation Collaborative, the Center for Health Care Strategies and its partners helped states explore strategies to incentivize and support adoption of tech-enabled solutions in Medicaid managed care. Tech-enabled solutions, such as telehealth, can be one tool in the Medicaid toolbox for increasing access, improving quality, advancing health equity, and ensuring efficient care delivery. These innovations hold promise for improving health outcomes and advancing health equity by increasing patient access to providers, supporting more seamless care coordination, providing culturally responsive care, and offering new ways for patients to manage their health.
The National Academies Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine: The Use of Telehealth for Disability Evaluations in Medicine and Allied Health: A Workshop (8/23) – The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) recently released a summary document on its telehealth workshop held earlier this year. The workshop explored the evolution of telehealth and commonly used terminology, the impact of inequities in digital access, privacy and cybersecurity concerns, the use of telehealth in a variety of allied health and medical specialties for patient evaluation, and the provision of interstate telehealth care. This publication provides a high-level summary of the presentations and discussions from the workshop.
Business Group on Health: 2023 Large Employers’ Health Care Strategy and Plan Design Survey (8/23) – The Business Group on Health published its 2023 Large Employers’ Health Care Strategy and Plan Design Survey, which gathered key plan design and health care cost data to create aggregate findings of employer-sponsored health care for the coming year. The survey found that while 74 percent of employers believe that virtual health will significantly impact future health care delivery, 84 percent said integrating virtual health and in-person care delivery is critical for success. Employers also showed interest in virtual primary care, with 32 percent offering these services in 2022 and 69 percent indicating they may do so in 2025.
Telehealth News and Market Developments
ABC 4: Intermountain Pediatric Telehealth Consults Make Expert Care Accessible for the Youngest Patients (8/25) – Local hospital emergency department doctors at Alliance board member Intermountain Healthcare can now connect with Primary Children’s Hospital’s emergency department, trauma, and pediatric ICU specialists through a telehealth video consult, which is available 24/7. During a six month trial period of this new telehealth pediatric service, about half of those pediatric emergency patients were able to safely stay in their local communities, and about 80 percent of pediatric emergency, trauma and ICU patients who’ve been transferred to Primary Children’s were discharged within 24 hours.
Healthcare IT News: MaineGeneral Hits Congestive Heart Failure Readmission Rate of Zero Percent Using RPM (8/23) – MaineGeneral Health had high, rising readmission rates for congestive heart failure (CHF). To address this issue, the health system launched a remote patient monitoring pilot in January 2020, working with vendor Health Recovery Solutions to monitor CHF patients after discharge from the hospital. Upon discharge, patients often need support to understand their symptoms and warning signs after returning home. Remote patient monitoring allows patients to monitor their blood pressure, weight, oxygen saturation, symptoms and medication adherence in real time at home with a dedicated registered nurse who actively conducts outreach to patients as needed.
Forbes: How Telemedicine Startup DocGo Wants To Make Healthcare Accessible In Every Sense (8/23) – DocGo, a telemedicine startup, provides mobile health care and deploys licensed practical nurses and paramedics onsite, delivering care under the direct supervision of a nurse practitioner. The key component of the successful delivery model is DocGo’s open primary dispatching and patient electronic health records (EHR) system. That highly efficient, tech-first solution, plus the lower cost labor model, allows the company to deliver high quality health care.
Optometry Times: Navigating Telehealth in a Post-pandemic Era (8/23) – In optometry, telehealth provides synchronous and asynchronous technologies and non-face-to-face telehealth for the eye, adnexa, visual system, and related systemic health care services. While telehealth cannot replace face-to-face visits for services such as refractive tests, photographs, and screenings due to inherent limitations in the technology, there are several clinically appropriate care use cases for telehealth in this specialty. This includes glaucoma compliance, follow-up of patients with dry eye and acute infections, and checkups of patients with age-related macular degeneration, among others.
Health Leaders: Understanding the Value of a Hub-and-Spoke Telemedicine Program (8/23) – Hub-and-spoke telemedicine networks can extend specialty services and education into rural areas and improve clinical outcomes and provider efficiencies. Hub-and-spoke telemedicine platforms typically revolve around a large academic health system at the center (hub), whose specialists use the technology to help treat patients in rural locations (spokes) and assist providers in care delivery. The platform can also be used in what is called the Project ECHO model to educate rural providers on topics ranging from care management to new types of treatments, allowing them to care for more of their patients and reduce referrals and transfers. This model can help rural hospitals and clinics improve clinical outcomes and their bottom line, while enabling teaching hospitals and specialists to extend their reach and help more patients and providers.
Healthcare IT News: Why Telehealth is More Than Just a Pandemic Trend (8/22) – In a discussion with Healthcare IT News, Liz Fobare, vice president of Tebra, a vendor of cloud-based clinical and practice management software, spells out the growing role of telemedicine during the pandemic, where health care goes with telehealth, how change may affect physicians, and what virtual care might look like 10 years from now.
Newsweek: Three (More) Reasons to Reimburse for Telehealth Visits (8/22) – Hospitals, physician practices and health care networks built robust telehealth programs during the pandemic that continue to improve patient health and access to health care for the most vulnerable patient populations. Payers should continue to reimburse telehealth visits due to the flexibility it provides for employees. This improved flexibility could attract more employees and get more people back into the workforce.
State Telehealth News and Activity
Fierce Healthcare: To Reach Homeless Individuals In Need, NYC Health + Hospitals Expands Tele-Behavioral Health To Shelters, Mobile Street Clinics (8/23) – NYC Health + Hospitals plans to launch and integrate a new tele-behavioral health service into its virtual urgent care platform, focusing on the needs of vulnerable and homeless New York residents, a chronically underserved community. The platform is supported by a three-year grant totaling $3.9 million from the Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust, which announced the award in late July. NYC Health + Hospitals will collaborate with the NYC Department of Homeless Services to create a tailored version of the new service, offering telehealth to treat patients at 25 homeless shelters and six mobile street outreach clinics in the first year.
Fox 13: Temple Terrance Police Department Uses Remote Telehealth Program to Help with Mental Health Calls (8/22) – The Temple Terrance Police Department is using a remote telehealth program to help residents experiencing a mental health crisis. Officers now show up to mental health-related calls with a tablet and can connect people with a doctor on the other end. Police in this department have said the conversations usually last between five and 15 minutes and that the one-on-one time with counselors helps on several fronts.
Smyth County: Smyth Library Establishes Telehealth Office (8/22) – The Smyth County Public Library in Virginia has set up a private telehealth office for residents. The library has ensured the enclosed room includes soundproofing and blinds for privacy. Many residents in Smyth County do not have access to stable internet connections to support online meetings or telehealth appointments. The library offers an opportunity for Smyth County residents to access health care services in a convenient format within the community.
St. Mary’s County Health Department: Telehealth Booths Opened at Two Local Libraries (8/22) – The St. Mary’s County Health Department, St. Mary’s County Libraries, and the Healthy St. Mary’s Partnership announced the opening of telehealth booths at two local libraries, which provides a private space with reliable internet access for community members to reserve and use for virtual health care visits.
Health Affairs, “A Health Podyssey: Ann Nguyen on Practicing Across State Lines In An Emergency.” Ann Nguyen from Rutgers University joins A Health Podyssey to discuss what happens when you suspend interstate barriers to medical practice. Nguyen and coauthors published a paper in the August edition of Health Affairs exploring the results of a survey administered to practitioners who received licenses through New Jersey's COVID-19 Temporary Emergency Licensure Program. They found that these practitioners met two very important needs: urgent hospital-based care and telehealth-based care.