A two-year bipartisan budget deal announced by Senate leaders on Wednesday includes provisions to expand telehealth coverage and scale back Meaningful Use regulations.
The House of Representatives addressed the same issues in its short-term funding bill approved earlier this week that would have provided federal funding for a six-week period and averted a partial government shutdown by midnight on Thursday.
The Senate’s bill is far more expansive and features a slew of healthcare extenders, including $6 billion in funding for mental health issues and opioid addiction, $2 billion for the National Institutes of Health and a four-year extension for the Children’s Health Insurance Program. The deal still must pass through the House where Democrats are pushing Republicans on a commitment to protect immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children.
“The budget deal doesn’t have everything Democrats want; it doesn’t have everything the Republicans want, but it has what the American people need,” Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said in a statement Wednesday.
But the bill includes health IT sweeteners like the CHRONIC Care Act, which builds telehealth benefits into Medicare Advantage plans beginning in 2020. The spending bill would also allow accountable care organizations to expand the use of telehealth by allowing a patient’s home to be considered an originating site. Telestroke service would also get a boost beginning in 2019.
Telehealth expansion has received bipartisan support in Congress. Lack of reimbursement has been a longstanding concern among providers and industry groups and a frequently cited a barrier to adoption.
Like the House bill, Senate leaders included legislation sponsored by Rep. Michael C. Burgess, M.D., R-Texas, that would strike portions of the HITECH Act to prevent Meaningful Use requirements from becoming more complex moving forward.
That regulatory change has received backing from health IT associations, including the American Medical Informatics Association (AMIA). Jeff Smith, AMIA's vice presidents of public policy, said the bill would give the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services more control over policy tied to health IT adoption and allow the agency to be more responsive to industry feedback.
Thanks to FierceHealthcare for this information
In a recent letter to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency, a bipartisan group of senators pushed for a new rule that would expand rural communities’ access to opioid addiction treatment by easing restrictions on providers’ ability to prescribe controlled substances through telemedicine.
Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), and Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan, both Republicans from Alaska, called for healthcare providers in limited cases to be exempt from current laws requiring prescribers to see a patient in person before issuing a prescription for a controlled substance, such as those used in medication assisted treatment. In the senators’ proposal, practitioners would be able to obtain a special registration to write prescriptions as part of opioid addiction treatment via telemedicine.
The expansion of telehealth “would ensure that controlled substances are dispensed in a tightly regulated and safe way,” Murkowski said in a news release.
Accessing in-person treatment for substance use disorders has been particularly challenging for many in the senators’ home states. In Missouri, 98 of 101 rural counties do not have licensed psychiatrists, while 80% of communities in Alaska are not connected to a road system.
Thanks to Healthcare Executive for this information
The American Association of Family Physicians is the latest healthcare organization to lobby the FCC to increase funding for rural broadband, which in turn would allow for an expansion of rural telemedicine.
Thanks to mHealth Intelligence for this information.Read More
Nearly six in 10 (57 percent) of Medicare health plan members aged 65 and over said they are unsure if their health plan offers telemedicine, while another 31 percent said that telemedicine is not offered by their plan, according to a recent survey.Read More
Although been more than a month since the Federal Communications Commission voted 3-2 to repeal net neutrality rules, the topic remains a hot-button issue.
The FCC’s decision affects more than just consumers. Lawyer Kristi Kung dives deeper into what the repeal could mean for telemedicine services.
In November, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai argued that the government’s light touch approach to high-speed internet would be beneficial to telehealth.
“However, the 2015 rules already prioritized critical healthcare services,” Kung wrote.
They differentiate between Broadband Internet Access Services (or general internet traffic) and Non-BIAS data services, which are exempt from the rules and ensure faster speeds. FCC Order 15-24 notes that telehealth services “might alternatively be structured as ‘non-BIAS data services,’ which are beyond the reach of the open Internet rules.”
Kung concludes: “Therefore, telehealth services could have secured an exemption under the old rules without implementing paid prioritization across the market.”
However, the past is the past. The FCC took a vote, and now healthcare industry experts are concerned that rural and small practices may not be able to afford high-quality telehealth services. And rural communities tend to be the ones that need telemedicine the most.
“Net neutrality advocates have posed the question, ‘What happens to telehealth if Netflix streaming services is given preference over critical medical applications?'” Kung wrote.
Thanks to MedCity News for this informationRead More
11 pieces of legislation in nine states will officially take effect in 2018.
Here they are:
Arkansas: A policy in the state gives a new definition of telemedicine and includes requirements for establishing a “professional relationship” via telemedicine. Additionally, it contains requirements for when a healthcare worker provides telehealth services to a minor in a school setting and the minor is in the state’s Medicaid program.
California: Two bills (AB 205 and SB 171) let Medi-Cal managed care plans request other access standards if they’ve exhausted all the other options to obtain providers to meet certain standards. They also classify telehealth visits as a means of alternative access standards.
Additionally, California took a closer look at telepharmacies. The state has set up requirements for registered pharmacy technicians who work at a remote dispensing site pharmacy.
Colorado: Bill SB 2017 develops a behavioral health crisis response system and crisis service facilities walk-in centers mobile response units. It also outlines what role telehealth can play in these areas.
Illinois: A new policy specifies that the Department can’t require a physician or healthcare professional to be physically present in the same room as the patient for the whole time that the patient is getting telepsychiatry services.
Another piece of legislation establishes standards for providers using telehealth in Illinois. The requirements include the need for providers to be licensed and use the same standard of care used for in-person visits
Montana: Beginning in 2018, Montana will require insurance to cover teledentistry.
Oregon: Oregon is making changes in the dentistry realm as well. Next year, it will allow dental care providers to utilize telehealth if they believe it’s appropriate and within their scope. The Oregon Board of Dentistry will be required to treat telehealth services the same way it treats in-person services.
Tennessee: Bill HB 664 enacts the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact. This will take effect July 1, 2018.
Texas: Bill 1107 provides definitions of telemedicine and telehealth in the state and defines a patient-provider relationship for telemedicine services. It took effect on May 27, 2017, but sections 5, 6 and 7 will become effective on January 1, 2018.
Washington: Through new legislation, Washington has further defined where a patient may receive health services. Starting in 2018, the state will expand private payer reimbursement requirements to include an originating site of “any location determined by the individual receiving the service.”
Thanks to MedCity News for this informationRead More
Here are five critical events and developments from the past year that have accelerated — and will continue to promote — the growth of telehealth programs:
VETS Act of 2017: The House passed this bill (H.R. 2123, Veterans E-Health and Telemedicine Support Act of 2017) to permit physicians and other providers who meet the definition of “covered health care professionals” to administer services via telehealth with a single medical license, regardless of where the physician or patient resides. The legislation also requires the VA Secretary to deliver a report to the House and Senate Committees on Veterans Affairs outlining the overarching effectiveness of telehealth services.
Expended Reimbursement: The Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA) final rule increases access to Medicare telehealth services, especially for patients in rural or underserved areas, by paying for more such consults and making it easier for providers to bill for them.
Disaster Relief: Hurricanes Harvey and Irma shined a spotlight on the value of telehealth during a natural disaster.
Employer Engagement: Employer-based telemedicine programs overall are growing. An August 2017 survey from the National Business Group on Health, found that telehealth offerings by employers are nearly universal, and employees who take advantage of these programs require fewer visits to emergency rooms, urgent care clinics and physicians’ offices.
State Buy-In: Numerous state laws have also addressed telemedicine issues. Texas passed a bill to improve patient outcomes by using telemedicine technology to bring trauma surgeons into the back of ambulances to assess and direct treatment. Twenty-two state Medicaid programs provide reimbursement for remote patient monitoring, up from three states in August 2016. An increasing number of states are also passing legislation directing health care professional boards to adopt practice standards for its providers who utilize telehealth.
Moving forward, increased demand for self-care and remote monitoring will continue to drive telehealth growth. Likewise, government initiatives will continue to play a large role in paving the way for further expansion of telehealth and telemedicine usage in U.S. health care.
Thanks to JDSUPRA for this informtaion.Read More
Why do so many people experience holiday-related anxiety? For starters, the emphasis on family time and togetherness can act as a constant and painful reminder that our lives may not look like joyful holiday cards — putting family conflict, loss, breakups and divorce under a microscope. The stress and anxiety of being confronted with family events, combined with travel, darker and colder days, unusually packed schedules, and lack of sleep can trigger behavioral health issues. Also, when busy and/or traveling, it’s common for people to deprioritize their physical and mental health.
But this doesn’t have to be your reality. You can give yourself the gift of telehealth! Many people, through their health plans, have access to virtual visits with licensed therapists, psychiatrists and psychologists — making it possible to manage mental health and enjoy the busy holiday season. Telehealth makes it possible to access quality care, 24/7, anywhere you have a smartphone or the web. Visit Teladoc.com/therapy to find out how you can access care from your home, on the road, or even right smack in the middle of your family’s holiday dinner.
“A combined 58 million American adults are living with either major depression (16M) or an anxiety disorder (42M), but in my experience, 100 percent of people will experience a stressor, or a loved one will need support, during the holiday season,” says Dr. Monika Roots, vice president of health services at Teladoc, the world’s largest and most trusted provider of virtual care delivery services. “One of the reasons I’m an advocate of telehealth for mental health is that it allows people to access care upon feeling triggered, not waiting weeks to get an appointment. After your aunt asks you why you’re single at the dinner table, for example, you can talk to someone immediately, making it easier to proactively manage stressors before they become major issues.”
How else can you help yourself or a loved one maintain positive mental health during the holidays? We asked Teladoc’s Dr. Roots for the top five ways to mitigate holiday-triggered anxiety. Here’s what she said:
1. Set boundaries.
2. Ask for help.
3. Stick to a routine.
5. Get some sleep.
Many people don’t realize that they have access to a telehealth solution like Teladoc through their health benefits, or that these services offer mental health support. Further, as opposed to 25-day wait times for a mental health visit (according to the Kennedy Forum), you can see Teladoc licensed therapists and psychologists/psychiatrists within minutes, so you can get back to enjoying your holiday.
Thanks to the Mtn. Grove News Journal for this information.Read More
Today at Health 2.0, Teladoc rolled out the first tangible fruits of its acquisition of Best Doctors: a new mobile app for clients of both services.
"For over 20 million people today, Teladoc [delivers] healthcare that drives better convenience, better value, and better outcomes," Nita Stella, vice president of product strategy, said during a demo of the new app at the conference. "Now with our recent acquisition of Best Doctors, we have an opportunity to expand that mission to also enable access to the patients that have treatment questions, or seek a second opinion or other services to a network of over 50,000 providers that have been identified as the best in their field. Through this access, we’re excited to launch our new and improved Teladoc mobile application and website, which will be launched later this month.”
Daniel Trencher, SVP of Product and Strategy for Teladoc, told MobiHealthNews that Teladoc’s focus on acute care telemedicine and Best Doctor’s focus on medical second opinions is a powerful combination because of what’s referred to as the population health pyramid, a way of visualizing the cost distribution in healthcare.
“Teladoc has historically really targeted conditions at the bottom of that pyramid — higher volume, lower total dollars and in the acute space,” Trencher explained. “Best Doctors has attacked the top of the pyramid, so the most complex cases and costly cases that impact a smaller percentage of the population but really drive a lot of healthcare expense. And bringing the companies together really allows us to target the middle as well.”
Best Doctors and Teladoc had a number of enterprise customers in common even before the acquisition, and some customers of just one service will likely adopt the other as the two companies continue as a merged entity. This app will be rolled out to the members of some of those joint customers.
When a customer logs onto the app, they’ll be given two options (with a third to be added shortly after launch). The first, “Request a visit”, will take the user to an experience very much like Teladoc’s existing telemedicine app, which can guide them to either a phone or video visit for acute care, beahvioral health, or dermatology.
But the other two options are new and utilize one of Best Doctors’ primary assets: It’s vetted list of medical specialists around the world. On launch, the app will have a “seek a second opinion” option. The user will fill out a short survey in the app. Then, finewatch either immediately or at a scheduled time in the next 48 hours, a nurse will call them and do a more detailed intake. Then Best Doctors will set up a consultation with the appropriate specialist.
The final option, which will roll out as an update a little later, uses Best Doctors’ database to help the user find a high quality specialist near them for a first opinion.
These features are major parts of what Best Doctors has been doing all along, but notably Best Doctors has never before had a mobile app. Teladoc will also be launching a Best Doctors app for enterprise customers that use Best Doctors but not Teladoc.
The Teladoc app has one other neat feature. Using Geofencing, the app can tell when a user enters an urgent care center and send them a push notification reminding them that telemedicine is another — possibly cheaper — option.
Having Teladoc and Best Doctors’ existing services in one app is a meaningful step in the companies’ merger, but still an early one. Ultimately, Teladoc will look for more synergies to integrate the two business models, with the goal of covering that whole spectrum of care.
“The vision is to have services that can help meet the needs of patients throughout the course of their lives and for different types of patients across the spectrum,” Trencher said.Read More
New laws to improve cybersecurity in the healthcare industry and to remove barriers that impede the expanded use of telehealth technology are among the legislative acts being sought by the Healthcare Information Management and Systems Society, which publicized its “wish list” during National Health IT Week.
In the face of massive amounts of patient information being stolen by hackers, and with providers facing financial, reputational and patient safety ramifications, HIMSS is offering a series of cybersecurity policy recommendations to members of Congress.
The nation’s leading healthcare IT professional association is asking the Department of Health and Human Services to appoint a security champion. The agency does have Christopher Wlaschin as its chief information security officer, but HIMSS believe a champion more power is needed.
HIMSS recommends that Congress enact legislation to raise the HHS CISO position to be a peer of the agency’s CIO, with the CISO having responsibilities to establish goals and priorities for cybersecurity.
These goals could include plans for effective response to threats, educating providers, vendors, insurers and other stakeholders on holistic security measures; working with organizations in other industries; and increasing the number of cybersecurity personnel in the healthcare industry.
The organization also calls on lawmakers to enact the CONNECT for Health Act of 2017 to remove Medicare restrictions that prevent reimbursing most providers for telehealth services and remote monitoring of patients using telehealth technology.
Thanks to HealthData Management for this informationRead More
Millennials are turning out to be the biggest proponents of telehealth services and mobile health applications. Telehealth services use technology such as computers and smartphone apps to connect physicians and healthcare providers with patients for diagnosis, referrals and treatment.
At nearly 80 million strong and growing in numbers, millennials are the largest generation living and working in the United States. Born between 1981 and 1997, they are generally more tech-savvy than baby boomers. Millennials want easy access, lower cost and convenient healthcare services that fit their busy lifestyles.
More than 50% of millennials are parents with young families. Healthcare providers are recruiting millennials for telehealth pediatric care that can be conducted from the comfort of the family’s home. Services offered include emergency diagnosis, referrals, periodic check-ups and ongoing parental education.
Thanks to Marlin Business Services Corp. for this information.Read More
The University of Mississippi Medical Center now bears the title of National Telehealth Center of Excellence.
The federal Health Resources and Services Administration bestowed the title on UMMC in recognition of its 14 years of providing telehealth care, especially for those with little access to both primary and specialty services.
The recognition carries with it an initial $600,000 in funding, with the opportunity for an additional $2 million over two years — money that “will help UMMC to build the infrastructure for research in telehealth and allow us to bring a national leadership to this emerging special area of medical practice,” Dr. Richard Summers, UMMC professor of emergency medicine and associate vice chancellor for research, said in a news release.
The designation also allows UMMC’s Center for Telehealth to serve as a national clearinghouse for telehealth research and resources, including technical assistance to other telehealth providers.
Thanks to The Clarion Ledger for this information.
Telemedicine lies in the forefront of innovation for the healthcare industry. Using a combination of telecommunications and technology, healthcare can be provided from a distance, providing essential coverage to people in rural communities, among others, who may not have ready access to medical facilities.
The global telemedicine market, Grand View Research noted in a report released in April, is expected to reach US$113 billion by 2025, up from US$24.9 billion in 2016, a compound annual growth rate of 18%. The research firm stated that the key drivers are the increasing numbers of chronic conditions and the rising demand for self-care. The "enhancing application of Internet, virtual medicine and rising demand for centralization of healthcare are expected to save on cost incurred, which is one of the critical success factors attributing for the growth of telemedicine market," research firm noted.
A recent KPMG-commissioned survey found that about one-third of healthcare providers are using patient monitoring and video services "to improve patient engagement and access to care and more of these programs are likely to come." While the study conducted by HIMSS Analytics found 31% of healthcare organizations were using video-based services and 34% provided remote monitoring, growth is foreseen as an additional 44% expect to add video-based services and 48% are planning for remote monitoring.
There is growing acceptance of telemedicine. A recent Harris Poll survey found that 65% of consumers who had a primary care physician said they were open to seeing their doctor by video. Among parents with children under age 18, over three-quarters, 78%, expressed interest.
Thanks to Streetwise Reports for this information.Read More