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
The American Telemedicine Association (ATA), a leading trade group for telehealth providers and advocates, this week released its first report since 2017 that tracks state policies on telehealth.
Telehealth adoption is growing, and more states are embracing policies that improve coverage and reimbursement for telehealth services, according to the report. Lack of reimbursement mechanisms has been one of the biggest barriers to telehealth adoption. Continue reading