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Last Week in Connected Care

Week Ending July 17, 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.

Event on Thursday

Legislative Advocacy Kickoff with the House Telehealth Caucus 

Please join us for an event with the sponsors of the Protecting Access to Post-COVID-19 Telehealth Act of 2020 on Thursday, July 23rd from 9:30 – 11 AM ET

Digital health groups will be joined by Representatives Mike Thompson (D-CA), David Schweikert (R-AZ), Peter Welch (D-VT), Bill Johnson (R-OH), and Doris Matsui (D-CA) for a virtual rally to discuss the legislation and how your organization can help ensure these policies become law.

Register Here

Alliance News

Press release: (7/16) – The Alliance issued a statement in support of the bipartisan Protecting Access to Post-COVID-19 Telehealth Act (H.R. 7663)"Telehealth services have been a lifeline for more than 9 million seniors during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Protecting Access to Post-COVID-19 Telehealth Act will ensure that this access does not disappear once the coronavirus emergency is over,” said Krista Drobac, Executive Director of the Alliance for Connected Care. “ We encourage all Representatives to cosponsor this important legislation.” View the bill text and section-by-section

  • Recently, the Alliance helped convene 340 organizations on a letter calling for Congress to make several meaningful and permanent action to address statutory barriers to telehealth. Those groups uniformly called for the removal of obsolete restrictions on the location of the patient, expanded HHS authority to determine appropriate providers and services for telehealth, continued telehealth payment for Federally Qualified Health Centers and Rural Health Clinics, and an automatic waiver HHS waiver authority for future emergencies. This legislation takes decisive action on three of those goals.

The Taskforce on Telehealth Policy a multi-stakeholder effort convened by the Alliance for Connected Care, NCQA and ATA finished its public input collection and is working in subgroups. A final set of recommendations is expected to be formalized by September.  Listen to NCQA’s Peggy O’Kane and Frank Micciche’s podcast featuring our Taskforce on Telehealth Policy here

    Media Coverage:

    • Congressional Telehealth Caucus Press release: (7/16) – Krista Drobac, Executive Director of the Alliance for Connected Care was quoted in a press release announcing the introduction of the Protecting Access to Post-COVID-19 Telehealth Act (H.R. 7663). “Giving all seniors access to telehealth – regardless of geographic location – is the right policy, and one that’s been proven necessary by both patients and providers,” said Krista Drobac, Executive Director of the Alliance for Connected Care. “The Protecting Access to Post-COVID-19 Telehealth Act takes a critical step toward this goal.”
    • Modern Healthcare: (7/16) – The Alliance was cited in a Modern Healthcare article voicing support for the Protecting Access to Post-COVID-19 Telehealth Act (H.R. 7663).
    • mHealthIntelligence: (7/17) The Alliance was quoted in an article on the introduction of legislation to permanently extend of telehealth access enacted during the pandemic, including coverage for FQHCs, RHCs and telehealth in the patient's home.

      Federal Agency Telehealth Activity / Guidance

      The Alliance for Connected Care continues to update a COVID-19 website tracking guidance.

      CMS Administrator Verma Blog in Health Affairs (7/16): CMS Administrator Verma posted a blog in Health Affairs on the early impact of CMS’ expansion of Medicare telehealth during COVID-19 and the unprecedented increases in telemedicine. The blog highlights that in total, over 9 million beneficiaries have received a telehealth service during the public health emergency, mid-March through mid-June, and over 3 million beneficiaries have received telehealth services via audio-only. The blog also highlights utilization statistics finding that beneficiaries regardless of whether they live in rural or urban areas are seeking care via telehealth during the pandemic; 22 percent of beneficiaries used telehealth services in rural areas, and 30 percent of beneficiaries used telehealth services in urban areas. In addition, beneficiaries are getting care through telemedicine during the pandemic at similar rates across demographics. The rapid adoption of telemedicine among providers and patients has shown that telehealth is here to stay, CMS Administrator Verma notes.

      Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): (7/16) – CDC released a report examining the adoption and uses of telemedicine in Missouri in response to COVID-19. The report shows data between February and March on in-person, cancelled appointments and telehealth visits – though notes that appointment cancellation data were not collected on type of visit and therefore CDC does not have insight into whether telehealth versus in-person visits were more likely to be cancelled.

      Department of Health and Human Services (HHS): (7/17) – HHS put together a 10-week learning community to accelerate telemedicine implementation to ambulatory providers called “HHS Telemedicine Hack.” View more information here.

        Congressional Activity and Legislation

        The Alliance for Connected Care continues to update a recent telehealth legislation page.

        TREATS Act (H.R. 7593): (7/13) – Reps. McKinley (R-WV), Cicilline (D-RI), Trone (D-MD) and Budd (R-NC), and Trahan (D-MA) introduced the Telehealth Response for E-prescribing Addiction Therapy Services (TREATS) Act (H.R. 7593), which would increase the use of telehealth for substance use disorder treatment. View the press release here. We are tracking these and other bills on the Alliance website.

        Protecting Access to Post-COVID-19 Telehealth Act of 2020 (H.R. 7663): (7/16) – Reps. Thompson (D-CA), Matsui (D-CA), Johnson (R-OH), Schweikert (R-AZ) and Welch (D-VT) introduced the Protecting Access to Post COVID-19 Telehealth Act of 2020 (H.R. 7663), which would authorize the Secretary of Health and Human Services to waive or modify application of Medicare requirements with respect to telehealth services during any emergency period. View the press release and section-by-section. We are tracking these and other bills on the Alliance website.

        News and Reports

        Becker’s Hospital Review: (7/13) – Rhode Island healthcare providers are urging lawmakers to expand telemedicine regulations ahead of the state’s August 2 expiration of the executive which has required insurers to cover virtual care services.

        HIT Consultant: (7/13) – A new Change Healthcare study of roughly 2,000 consumers conducted by The Harris Poll found a majority of consumers agreed COVID-19 will fundamentally change healthcare delivery (81%), with most believing the pandemic will speed digital adoption. 8 in 10 said COVID-19 made telehealth “an indispensable part of the healthcare system,” 65% said they plan to use telehealth more after the pandemic, and 78% said COVID-19 has shown how badly the U.S. needs more telehealth options.

        Healthcare IT News: (7/13) – A Kyruus survey of 1,000 patients found that more than 75% said they were satisfied with their virtual visit, and 96% said it was easy to arrange a visit.

        mHealthIntelligence: (7/14) – Researchers at the University of Missouri are developing temporary tattoos that could capture biometric data in remote patient monitoring programs.

        Healthcare IT News: (7/14) – Kennedy Krieger Institute, an organization dedicated to improving the lives of children and adolescents with pediatric development disabilities, used new FFC award funds this year to expand its telehealth and RPM services to continue serving vulnerable and high-risk children, adolescents and adults with disabilities during COVID-19.

        Becker’s Hospital Review: (7/14) – VA Secretary Wilkie announced plans to expand VA telehealth services at Walmart locations across the country. Wilkie said the agency’s plans to have a larger footprint in areas where it is more difficult to get to a hospital will kick off after the coronavirus pandemic starts to wind down.

        Houston Chronicle: (7/14) – According to a survey from Accenture, an estimated 4.5 million patients in Texas began using telehealth during the COVID-19 pandemic, and 94% said they would use virtual care options even after the crisis subsides.

        mHealthIntelligence: (7/15) – Baptist Health is partnering with a Florida housebuilder to include a direct-to-consumer telehealth service with every new house sold.

        Healthcare Innovation: (7/15) – A survey of 1,000 healthcare consumers nationwide by Amdocs found 29% of consumers are trying new telehealth experiences and 26% said they plan to continue to use telehealth beyond COVID-19.

        Notable Telehealth Commentary

        “During these unprecedented times, telemedicine has proven to be a lifeline for health care providers and patients,” CMS Administrator Verma wrote in a Health Affairs Blog. “The rapid adoption of telemedicine among providers and patients has shown that telehealth is here to stay. CMS remains committed to ensuring that the government supports innovation in telehealth that leverages modern technology to enhance patient experience, providing more accessible care.”

        “Telehealth is popular and bipartisan because it reduces the cost of health care and improves quality and availability,” said Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI) in a statement following new data from CMS highlighted in Health Affairs. “The skyrocketing use of telehealth during the pandemic shows that we cannot and should not go back to the Stone Ages of telehealth coverage. The changes that were enacted in the CARES Act to expand access to telehealth should be made permanent.”

        Several members of Congress commented on the introduction of the bipartisan Protecting Access to Post-Covid-19 Telehealth Act:

        “Telehealth is a proven and cost-effective way to get care out to patients, particularly during a crisis. Since the Spring, many patients who need routine care have been using telehealth to see their doctors without increasing the risk of spreading Coronavirus and many face an abrupt end to this practice after the crisis is over,” said Representative Mike Thompson (D-CA)

        “This unprecedented pandemic has proven that telehealth not only works, but that it’s essential,” said Representative Peter Welch (D-VT). “These practical telehealth provisions have been successfully implemented and should be continued to ensure that everyone has access to quality healthcare no matter where they live or how mobile they are."

        “Prior to the coronavirus pandemic, there was still some question as to whether telehealth could be an effective alternative to going to the doctor’s office. The answer is now clear: unequivocally, YES,” said Representative Bill Johnson (R-OH). “This bipartisan legislation will enable Medicare beneficiaries to continue using telehealth services when the current emergency declaration ends, and ensures that the enormous resources invested in making this technology work are not wasted.

        “I am pleased to introduce this legislation with my colleagues on the Telehealth Caucus, continuing our work to advance solutions for how we can provide efficient and accessible care,” said Representative David Schweikert (R-AZ). “It is clear that telemedicine is part of the future of our healthcare system, and should be continued as an attainable tool post-pandemic. Telehealth services are allowing society to become safer, healthier, and more effective at delivering the care patients deserve.

        “Rising to the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, providers nationwide are leaning in to telehealth to ensure patients have access to the care they need while safely social distancing. Especially in our medically underserved communities and for individuals highly vulnerable to the virus’ spread, leveraging telehealth is helping to advance our broader mission to equalize access to care,” said Representative Doris Matsui (D-CA).

        Upcoming Events 

        July 23Legislative Advocacy Kickoff with the House Telehealth Caucus  Register Here 

        July 23 – "Virtual Care to Support Coping During the COVID-19 Pandemic" 

        July 29 – STAT, “Inside the virtual care boom: What happens when the point of care becomes anywhere?Webinar

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