Photo via health.mil.Kathlyn Chassey uses a home healthcare kit as part of the COVID-19 Remote Monitoring Program, a joint effort of the Virtual Medical Center and Brooke Army Medical Center, in San Antonio, Dec. 18, 2020.
Telehealth wasn’t the only health care technology that took off during the COVID-19 pandemic. Remote patient monitoring — the use of mobile devices to monitor patient vital signs at home, plus in-home or virtual visits by health care providers — also has increased due to the public health emergency.
Before the pandemic, a big challenge for remote monitoring was helping large health care organizations, systems and plans to prioritize implementing virtual care technologies beyond just a pilot phase, Drew Schiller, co-founder and CEO of the technology firm Validic, said during a recent webinar hosted by the American Telemedicine Association.
“We were stuck in this endless cycle of trying things,” Schiller said. But once the pandemic hit, remote monitoring, telehealth and other technologies “immediately jumped to the forefront” and showed everyone how they could be used to scale remote care,” he said: “It was obviously a regrettable circumstance … but from a health care technology perspective, it has advanced the industry at least five years, if not a full decade, in a very short amount of time. Continue reading
There’s been a small flurry of stories and news updates on telehealth this summer.
On July 26, some 430 health systems, associations and companies sent a joint letter to Congress urging policymakers to extend telehealth benefits for Medicare beneficiaries beyond the COVID-19 public health emergency.
Prior to the start of the pandemic, Medicare only covered telehealth visits for its beneficiaries living in defined rural areas who initiated the call from a provider’s office, according to Kyle Zebley, vice president of public policy for the American Telemedicine Association (ATA), which is co-leading the effort. Thanks to provisions covered by legislation such as the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, telehealth became a covered service for all Medicare beneficiaries regardless of area of residence or where calls were initiated. But it was designed as a temporary measure. Unless it’s made permanent, cautioned the ATA and other letter writers, Medicare beneficiaries and providers who have become accustomed to the service could fall off what advocates call a “telehealth cliff.” Continue reading
Amid the mental and behavioral challenges fueled by COVID-19, expanded telehealth capabilities have contributed to a surge in mental health care. Use of the technology appears to have contributed to fewer no-show psychiatric and other counseling appointments among both new and existing patients and expanded access to care for patients in regions that pre-pandemic were bearing the brunt of the nation’s lack of mental health providers.
Once we’re safely past this pandemic, at least some emergency telemedicine expansions, granted through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and state governors, likely will remain. As that future is being sorted out, it’s important to consider what’s beneficial and what’s concerning about treating mental illnesses from a distance. Continue reading
If you cover anything about health information technology (HIT), then you should know about Karen Groppe, senior director of corporate communications the Healthcare Information and Management System Society (HIMSS), the country’s leading HIT trade group.
I interviewed Groppe about stories journalists should be pursuing in HIT and how HIMSS can help.
She listed four topics that should take you through 2021 and beyond. Continue reading
Last week kicked off the 11-day Iowa State Fair, drawing most of the top Democratic presidential candidates. A regular stop on the early state voting circuit, the Iowa State Fair offers the opportunity for face time with early-state voters – while also eating food on sticks and posing for selfies in front of a giant cow made out of butter.
In between, candidates have been releasing their plans for rural America. Many of these plans include details how they would expand broadband access and telehealth services. Continue reading