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This Week in Connected Care:
Recent Developments and Clips

Week Ending May 8, 2020

The Alliance for Connected Care continues to maintain and update a COVID-19 website tracking guidance on telehealth and remote patient monitoring

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Alliance News

The Alliance is tracking COVID-19 Telehealth Polls. The document includes polls on patient and provider adoption, acceptance, and satisfaction with telehealth during the COVID-19 public health emergency. This document is included on the revamped Studies & Reports page, which now also includes a list of pre-COVID-19 research and reports on telehealth utilization/adoption, feasibility and cost-effectiveness, and impact on clinical outcomes. The Alliance will continue to update the charts with telehealth polls and relevant research as they are published.

CONNECT for Health Act of 2019 (S. 2741/H.R. 4932) gained seven cosponsors in the House. The bill now has 33 bipartisan cosponsors in the Senate and 39 bipartisan cosponsors in the House of Representatives.

    Federal Agency Telehealth Activity / Guidance

    Defense Department: (5/12) issued an interim final rule for TRICARE allowing audio only telehealth services, authorizing reimbursement for interstate or international practice, and eliminating copays for telehealth services. 

    CMS: (5/8) – CMS updated a telehealth video on Medicare coverage and payment of virtual services. The video provides answers to common questions about the expanded Medicare telehealth services benefit under the 1135 waiver authority and CARES Act.

    FCC: (5/6) – FCC approved an additional 26 funding applications for the COVID-19 Telehealth Program, bringing the total to 56 funded health care providers in 23 states for a total of $24.9 million in funding.

    CMS: (5/5) – CMS posted updated frequently asked questions (FAQs) for state Medicaid and CHIP agencies. The new questions address eligibility and enrollment, benefits including COVID-19 testing and telehealth, financing, managed care, information technology among others.

    AHRQ: (5/5) – HHS Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) has created an easy to understand sample telehealth consent form and guidance for clinicians on how to obtain consent for telehealth.

      Congressional Activity and Legislation

      VA Mission Telehealth Clarification Act (S. 3643): (5/7) – Sen. Loeffler (R-GA) and Sinema (D-AZ) introduced the VA Mission Telehealth Clarification Act (S. 3643), which would authorize certain postgraduate health care employees and health professions trainees of the Department of Veterans Affairs to provide treatment via telemedicine. Bill text not yet posted.

      National Broadband Plan for the Future: (5/7) – Sen. Markey (D-MA) announced the National Broadband Plan for the Future, legislation that would require the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to update the National Broadband Plan, as well as study how the coronavirus pandemic has changed the way Americans live, learn and work online.

      Letter: (5/4) – Sen. Shaheen (D-NH) and McSally (R-AZ) sent a letter to the Defense Healthy Agency (DHA) to allow for a broad array of health care services under TRICARE – including mental services in particular – to be offered via telehealth for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic.

          News and Reports

          Forbes: (5/4) – Forbes identified five reasons why telehealth is here to stay and highlighted a March survey finding that 25% of consumer respondents had used telehealth prior to the current COVID-19 pandemic, 59% reported they are more likely to use telehealth services now than previously, and 33% indicated they would leave their current physician for a provider who offered telehealth access.

          NJBIZ: (5/4) - The Novartis US Foundation awarded a $2 million grant over two years to the New Jersey Primary Care Association, which will use the funds to launch five telehealth programs to provide virtual primary and specialty care, including mental health services, to vulnerable uninsured and underinsured residents.

          mHealthIntelligence: (5/4) – Wyoming, the nation’s least populated state is seeing a surge in telehealth use. Read how once physician has been spearheading the telemedicine effort in Wyoming.

          Healthcare Finance News: (5/5) – Community Care Physicians medical group has used patient engagement technology to reduce its no-show rate by 35% by sending patient reminders about telehealth appointments.

          mHealthIntelligence: (5/5) – Researchers are designing an mHealth wearable that attaches to the throat and monitors lung movement and breathing sounds for coughing and breathing problems associated with the Coronavirus.

          Fierce Healthcare: (5/6) – CVS CEO Larry Melo said that utilization of telehealth and virtual visits through its MinuteClinic locations was up 600% compared to the first quarter of 2019, while home delivery of prescriptions was up 1000%.

          Wall Street Journal: (5/7) – More school districts across the United States are adopting telehealth to provide mental health services as the country faces heightened fears of COVID-19, sparking increased anxiety and depression.

          Wall Street Journal: (5/7) – Hospitals are exploring the use of artificial intelligence and robotics technologies to assess patients remotely in order to protect emergency-room and intensive-care personnel from COVID-19.

          POLITICO: (5/7) – While telehealth is seeing its time in the spotlight, particularly disadvantaged communities without the means to get online are seeing their health disparities widen even more.

          Health Affairs: (5/8) – Health Affairs published an article on telehealth during COVID-19 and ensuring that telehealth does not exacerbate disparities in care. Broadband access and digital health literacy are among some of the barriers to telehealth that disproportionally affect minority communities.

          mHealthIntelligence: (5/8) – The US Department of Defense is launching a project aimed at using mHealth wearables to identify new treatments for people infected with the Coronavirus. The DoD is working with physIQ, a Chicago-based digital health company, to collect and analyze data in real time from both patients who have been infected by the COIVD-19 virus and those at high risk of exposure.

          Upcoming Events 

          May 12 – University of Arizona Life Sciences, “Telemedicine During a Pandemic.” Webinar

          May 13 – Fierce Healthcare, “Navigating Telehealth Reimbursement Policy Changes in the Time of COVID.” Webinar

          May 18 – NIHCM, “Growing Challenges of Substance Use, Treatment & Recovery During COVID-19.” Webinar

          June 9 – AHRQ, “A National Web Conference on the Role of Telehealth to Increase Access to Care and Improve Healthcare Quality.” Webinar

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

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