View in browser
Connected Care Update

September 7, 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

Register for Taskforce on Telehealth Report ReleaseThe Taskforce, a multi-stakeholder effort convened by the Alliance for Connected Care, NCQA and ATA will issue its final report on September 15.  A public unveiling event will be hosted virtually on Tuesday, September 15 at 2:00 PM ET.  Register here

Call for Telehealth Data:  The Alliance continues to collect data necessary to understand usage during COVID-19 and make the case for permanent telehealth policies. 

Please submit your data/research to

Federal Agency Telehealth Activity

The Alliance for Connected Care continues to update a COVID-19 website tracking guidance.  We have also posted our summary of the CY2021 Physician Fee Schedule. 

Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ): (8/31) – HHS AHRQ issued a blog highlighting new research finding that medication-assisted treatment programs that included telehealth services to treat opioid use disorder fared the same or better as in-person programs in keeping patients in treatment programs. View the blog.

Department of Veterans Affairs (VA): (8/31) – VA announced a new artificial intelligence platform; the electronic Virtual Assistant (e-VA), which allows veterans to receive a timely response to basic questions, automated alerts, follow-up messages, appointment reminders and the ability to schedule and reschedule appointments. View the press release.

Joint Rural Telehealth Initiative: (9/1) – The Federal Communications Commission (FCC), HHS and the Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced that they signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to work together on the Rural Telehealth Initiative, a joint effort to collaborate and share information to address health disparities, resolve provider challenges, and promote broadband services and technology to rural areas in America. As part of the MOU, the agencies intend to establish an interagency Rural Telehealth Initiative Task Force to consider future recommendations or guidelines for the initiative and share expertise, scientific and technical information, data and publications. View the press release and MOU.

VA Office of Inspector General (OIG): (9/1) – VA OIG released a review of the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) appointment management strategies and the status of canceled appointments during COVID-19. VA OIG found that roughly five million canceled appointments from March 15 through May 1, 2020 had evidence of follow-up or other tracking. In addition, about 2.8 million visits during March and April were conducted via telehealth. View the summary with link to report.

HHS Rural Action Plan: (9/3) – HHS released the Rural Action Plan, which provides a roadmap for HHS to strengthen departmental coordination to better serve the millions of Americans who live in rural communities across the United States. One of the four strategies is to leverage technology and innovation, including:

  • Supporting a new HHS Health Challenge to leverage technology to improve screening and management of post-partum depression for rural women.
  • Providing more than $8 million in grant funding for the Telehealth Network Grant Program to provide emergency care consults via telehealth to rural providers without emergency care specialists.
  • Developing new flexibility for Medicare Advantage (MA) plans to improve access to managed care options in rural areas through changes in network adequacy assessments for MA plans and to take into account the impact of telehealth providers in contracted networks.

View the press release and Rural Action Plan.

FCC Connected Care Pilot Program: (9/3) – The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) released additional guidance for health care providers interested in applying for the $100 million Connected Care Pilot Program. FCC established this new telehealth initiative to support the delivery of health care to low-income Americans and veterans. Further information regarding the timing of the Pilot Program application window, and other specific, necessary procedures, will be announced by the Wireline Competition Bureau in a forthcoming Public Notice. View the press release and guidance.

Congressional Activity

The Alliance for Connected Care continues to update a recent telehealth legislation page with information about bills referenced.

Letter to CMS Administrator Verma: (8/26) – Rep. Hern (R-OK) led 48 Republican members of Congress in a letter to CMS Administrator Verma supporting the proposed Physician Fee Schedule, which would make permanent several new telehealth codes. View the press release and letter.

Ensuring Telehealth Expansion Act: (9/1) – Rep. Williams (R-TX) introduced the Ensuring Telehealth Expansion Act (H.R. 8156), which would extend certain provisions in the CARES Act relating to telehealth services.

View the press release and bill text. We are tracking these and other bills on the Alliance website.

Research, Surveys, and Telehealth News

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

California Medical Association Telehealth Physician Survey: The California Medical Association (CMA) is surveying physicians regarding their experience with telehealth, both before and during the COVID-19 pandemic. The survey will collect information about how physicians are using telehealth, their experiences with it to date and whether they plan to continue using telehealth moving forward. CMA will use the results of this survey to design educational opportunities that are tailored to the needs of practices. Comments are due by September 15, 2020. View the press release with a link to the survey.

University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS): The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences Institute for Digital Health & Innovation announced a four-year $3.8 million grant from the federal Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA) to establish a national research center. The center will examine the effectiveness of digital health in delivering health care in rural areas and hospitals.

AXIOS: (8/29) – New research from consumer analytics company Second Company finds that demand for telehealth services has been stronger in states that had looser COVID-19 restrictions than in stricter states.

Modern Healthcare: (8/30) – An article in Modern Healthcare summarizes the expansion of telehealth during COVID-19 and the back and forth regarding whether telehealth will remain post-pandemic. The article also highlights Congressional and senior Administration telehealth comments.

Business Insider: (8/31) – Per a Definitive Healthcare survey of more than 2,300 providers and healthcare IT leaders, 23% indicated telehealth will have the greatest impact on the healthcare landscape in the next year.

The Highland County Press: (8/31) – The accelerated growth in telehealth services at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic saved patients travel time and money, according to new data from The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. The majority of telehealth patients who received care during this time period reside in Ohio and account for 98 percent of visits. Ohio patients saved 9.2 million miles in travel and more than 415,000 gallons of gas or roughly $830,000 in fuel costs.

Healthcare IT News: (8/31) – Central Kansas Mental Health Center doubled the number of patients they were able to see on a daily basis by installing telehealth technologies to enable onsite physicians to conduct telehealth sessions with other office locations.

mHealthIntelligence: (8/31) – The Texas Cardiac Arrhythmia Institute at St. David's Medical Center launched a telehealth program that uses wearables to monitor patients at home for atrial fibrillation and help develop home-based health and wellness programs for them.

Healthcare Dive: (8/31) – In a new survey from Klas Research, healthcare executives said their biggest technology challenge during the pandemic has been telehealth. In addition, only four of the 19 executives surveyed said their organizations currently have a working remote patient monitoring program, and thirteen said it's one of the technologies they've enhanced the least during the pandemic.

Healthcare IT News: (9/1) – A new study using the Mount Sinai De-Identified COVID-19 database found that Black and Latino patients had lower odds of using telehealth versus ER or office visits between March and May, 2020, compared to Whites or Asians.

STAT: (9/1) – Telemedicine visits for just 21% of total encounters by the middle of July, down from 69% at the early peak of the public health crisis in April, according to national data from Epic, the electronic health record company. Providers are figuring out how to best recalibrate their visit composition.

Healthcare IT News: (9/2) – Clark County Rehabilitation and Living Center is using FCC funds for tablets and video telehealth equipment to perform remote diagnosis and treatment for psychiatric services and expand primary care telehealth services in order to reduce patient travel in rural areas during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Healthcare IT News: (9/2) – A study published this week in the American Heart Association journal Hypertension found that 12 months of pharmacist-managed home blood pressure telemonitoring and pharmacist management lowered hypertension for two years. "The findings were just short of statistical significance, meaning they could have been due to chance," said lead study author Dr. Karen L. Margolis in a statement. "However, we were surprised that the figures on serious cardiovascular events pointed so strongly to a benefit of the telemonitoring intervention.”

Healthcare Dive: (9/3) – According to FAIR Health data for the month of June, telehealth claims lines increased 4,132% from June 2019 to June 2020, jumping from just 0.16% of all medical claim lines to 6.85%. However, virtual care claims fell 21% from May to June as states began to resume in-person treatment for non-emergency medical care

Healthcare IT News: (9/2) – A study published this week in the American Heart Association journal Hypertension found that 12 months of pharmacist-managed home blood pressure telemonitoring and pharmacist management lowered hypertension for two years. "The findings were just short of statistical significance, meaning they could have been due to chance," said lead study author Dr. Karen L. Margolis in a statement. "However, we were surprised that the figures on serious cardiovascular events pointed so strongly to a benefit of the telemonitoring intervention.”

mHealthIntelligence: (9/4) – Harvard Pilgrim Health Care is partnering with California-based Ceresti Health to launch a new telehealth platform that will give caregivers the information, coaching, and support they need to care for loved ones at home.

Notable Telehealth Commentary

In a new interview with KATU News, HHS Secretary Azar said the DEA exception to allow for telemedicine to be used for an initial visit between a patient and doctor treating a substance use disorder with medication-assisted treatment has "certainly expanded availability, especially in rural areas for people to be able to get into and remain in medication-assisted treatment, which is the gold standard of treatment for individuals." "We’ve seen a dramatic increase in the availability, as well as the use of medication-assisted treatment. That’s what’s really helped to enable people who are suffering from opioid addiction to be able to get on a path of recovery and ongoing treatment that’s needed to keep them on that path of recovery," Azar explained.

"The telemedicine is an important aspect, not just of how we care for people who are suffering from addiction but also in our general healthcare system, he continued. ‘We need to get rid of unnecessary regulatory barriers that stand in the way of delivering effective care, effective services, especially for those in rural and underserved areas.’ That can be a really important innovation in how we deliver this care," said Azar.

Upcoming Events

September 14 – September 18 – xtelligent Healthcare Media, “Connected Health Virtual Summit Delivering Quality Care in the COVID Era.”

September 15 – Taskforce on Telehealth Policy, “Public Report Release,” 2:00 PM ET

September 15 – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Telehealth & Health Equity: Considerations for Addressing Health Disparities during the COVID-19 Pandemic,” 2:00 PM ET

September 18 – National Consortium of Telehealth Resource Centers, “Multicultural Patient Engagement Strategies and Solutions,” 2:00 PM ET

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

Alliance for Connected Care

1100 H St NW, Suite 740

Washington, D.C. 20005

twitter website

You received this email because you signed up or registered for one of our events.