Telehealth

Information about how COVID-19 has changed the use of telehealth to provide health care, including access, scope of practice, and regulatory changes at the state, federal, and organizational levels.

(01/10/21) Governor Cuomo Announces Proposal to Expand Access to Telehealth for All as Part of 2021 State of the State
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has announced a proposal to expand access to telehealth for all New Yorkers by making permanent and further expanding many of the pandemic-related expansions. Telehealth use has increased dramatically following changes to regulation to ensure reimbursement and efforts to keep providers and patients safe from COVID-19 infection.

(01/07/21) Telehealth Usage Rises With Increase of COVID-19 Cases
This article from HealthLeaders discusses new analysis from FAIR Health of insurance claims, noticing an increase in insurance claims for telehealth services matching an increase in cases of COVID-19. Telehealth claims rose substantially in 2020 over 2019, with sustained use from March through October, the most recent month analyzed.

(01/06/21) Poll: Most Americans Plan to Use Telehealth After the Pandemic
This article from MedCity News covers a recent Harris Poll survey finding nearly 65% of Americans reported planning to continue using telehealth even after the COVID-19 pandemic. The results of the survey also showed more than half of those aged 35-49 would prefer to have both telehealth and in-person visits, nearly two-thirds of those over age 65 would prefer in-person visits.

(01/04/21) Massachusetts Governor Signs Law Safeguarding Telehealth Coverage
Governor Charlie Baker of Massachusetts has signed a law to make permanent many of the telehealth-related regulations put in place to enable better access to virtual treatment during the COVID-19 pandemic. This new bill will require permanent rate parity on certain health services and an expanded scope of practice for some providers, among other provisions.

(12/22/20) New Bill Aims to Ensure Medicare Coverage for Audio-only Telehealth Calls
A new bipartisan bill introduced to the United States House of Representatives seeks to allow certain health care services delivered over audio-only channels to permanently be eligible for Medicare reimbursement. The federal government and many states have temporarily eased restrictions on reimbursement for audio-only calls in order to address the COVID-19 pandemic.

(12/14/20) Current Status of Federal and California Telehealth Policy During COVID-19
A video from the Center for Connected Health Policy, featuring Executive Director Mei Wa Kwong outlines the current status of federal regulation of telehealth, as well as regulation in the state of California.

(12/14/20) Too Big to Ignore: 7 Recommendations to Address Our Growing Mental Health Crisis
This blog post from the Health Affairs describes the ways in which the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated an already difficult mental health crisis. With rates of psychological distress up throughout the United States, options such as expanding access to telehealth and improving treatment options are given to address the needs of patients.

(12/09/20) Waiver of State Licensure Requirements for The Delivery of COVID-19 Countermeasures via Telehealth
This article from The National Law Review covers amendments waiving state licensure requirements when providing Covered Countermeasures for COVID-19 treatment using telehealth services. This is significant in that it helps some providers provide some services that were previously limited due to state laws regarding cross-state practice of medicine using telehealth.

(12/07/20) What Is Telemedicine, and How Has It Evolved During the Pandemic?
This opinion piece published in Forbes covers the background of telehealth services and how the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way telehealth technology is used. Telemedicine has seen widespread adoption as an alternative to traditional in-person services.

(12/04/20) The Risks of Moving Health Care Delivery to the Internet
This opinion blog post published in Health Affairs compares the advantages and disadvantages to the movement of health care services to internet-based modalities. Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, there has been significant movement from traditional services to telehealth and other electronic, virtual-based services.

(12/04/20) HHS Expands COVID-19 Telehealth Capabilities in PREP Act Amendment
This article covers a new amendment to the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness (PREP) Act from the United States Department of Health and Human Services. This amendment aims to ease the regulatory burdens on health care providers seeking to provide telehealth services to patients across state lines.

(12/03/20) Survey: Make Telehealth a Regular Part of Care Management
A new survey from Luma Health finds that patients’ fear of COVID-19 infection may be keeping them away from in-person visits with their health care providers. Telehealth services are suggested as an alternative to help keep patient care on track.

(12/02/20) CMS Adds 60+ Services to Medicare’s Telehealth List in Final Rule: 7 Details
In this update from Becker’s Hospital Review, some new changes to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services 2021 Physician Fee Schedule are listed, with impacts on telehealth services. More than 60 new services are added to the list of reimbursable services, potentially increasing access to patients.

(12/01/20) A Shifting View on Telemedicine
A palliative medicine and critical care doctor writes about the way in which patient and medical perception of telemedicine use has changed, both before and throughout the pandemic, in this piece published by The New York Times.

(11/30/20) The Future of State Telehealth Policy
The National Governors Association provides a summary of the many types of regulatory flexibilities put in place across the nation at both the state and federal level in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The paper also provides insight on further considerations for governors on long-term goals in telehealth policy.

(11/24/20) More Telehealth Options Added for Medicare Recipients
Telehealth growth among Medicare recipients increased during the pandemic from 0.1% to nearly 40%. This article covers some of the expanded telehealth services now eligible for reimbursement for Medicare members.

(11/23/20) Diving Into the Home Health Emergency Access to Telehealth (HEAT) Act
This article highlights new legislation introduced by Maine Senator Susan Collins and Maryland Senator Ben Cardin with the intention of creating rules for reimbursement for telehealth services offered in a home health care setting, which has already been operating without reimbursement in many locations due to its effectiveness.

(11/10/20) Make Virtual Doctor Visits a Permanent Part of Medicare
Utilization of telehealth has increased substantially since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. This editorial pulls data from the University of Washington medical system to show how telemedicine has exponentially grown and should remain a staple of the healthcare system after the pandemic is over.

(11/09/20) Boston, NY Hospitals Collaborate on Telehealth Platform for COVID-19 Rehab
Health systems in both Boston and New York City are combining efforts to develop a telehealth platform with a goal of improving clinical outcomes for discharged patients hospitalized with COVID-19.

(11/06/20) Telemedicine Surge Likely to Remain
An article describing how high patient satisfaction and continued fear of COVID-19 infection is fueling continued demand for telehealth services. As state and national policies continue to promote telehealth service delivery, this demand will likely remain.

(11/05/20) Ever-changing Patient Needs Require Embrace of Digital Technologies
In this opinion piece, the author advocates for further adoption and utilization of telehealth technology to better meet the needs of patients. The author describes her organization’s use of telehealth to benefit patients, advocates, and survivors of lung cancer in the time of COVID-19.

(11/04/20) Op-Ed | Telehealth Services Are Remarkably Effective—Let’s Make Sure They Stay Funded
An op-ed piece discussing the importance of funding telehealth services to maintain their effectiveness. The author details how telehealth has been used to provide better care for the homeless in New York City during the COVID-19 pandemic.

(10/28/20) Health Insurers Are Starting to Roll Back Coverage for Telehealth – Even Though Demand Is Way Up Due to COVID-19
The adoption of telehealth rapidly following the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic contributed to significant increases in utilization with no end to the demand in sight. However, as the demand remains high, health insurers are reconsidering what services will be reimbursed over telehealth.

(10/28/20) Too Many Rural Americans Are Living in the Digital Dark. The Problem Demands A New Deal Solution
This blog post from Health Affairs highlights the problems rural Americans face in accessing telehealth services, especially in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. The rapid expansion of telehealth services met the challenges of limited broadband connectivity, and expanding this connectivity could help both patients gain access to care and hospitals in rural locations increase revenue.

(10/27/20) Report Notes CMS Program’s Success With Telehealth for Senior Care
This article highlights a new report on the PACE program from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, which has found success in funding telehealth services in 31 states for both patients on Medicare and Medicaid. The program may be a model of other programs to effectively improve telehealth service delivery.

(10/27/20) Telemedicine or In-person Visit? Pros and Cons
An article from Kaiser Health News discussing the benefits and drawbacks of telehealth visits compared to traditional, in-person care. Insurance coverage and reimbursement for the visit are major points of focus, as well as comfort with telehealth visits and technology available for the visit.

(10/27/20) Predicting the Future Role of Telemedicine
Given the massive increase in the use of telehealth during the pandemic, there are expectations that it will become a standard feature of health care delivery. This article makes some predictions about the future of telehealth, including predictions that patients will seek out better telehealth delivery services and expect increased access to specialists.

(10/21/20) Bridging the Miles — And the Pandemic — Teledentistry Makes Some Dentists Wince
An article jointly published by Fortune and Kaiser Health News which looks at the positive and negative consequences of teledentistry. While some have benefited significantly from the service, detractors complain of an inability to thoroughly test and diagnose a patient, leading to worse quality and potentially worse outcomes.

(10/20/20) Medicaid Telehealth Policies States Can Make Permanent to Ensure Access for Children/Families
This newsletter from Manatt Health discusses some of the policies enacted in response to COVID-19 that could be made permanent in an effort to expand access for children and families beyond the pandemic. Suggestions include changes to coverage, reimbursement, sites of care, and services offered.

(10/19/20) CMS Announces New Medicare Telehealth Services and Updates Medicaid Telehealth Toolkit
An article covering new services announced by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to be covered by Medicare during the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency. This emergency was recently extended to January 20, 2021, and meet an executive order from President Trump seeking to expand access to telehealth.

(10/16/20) Social Work and Tele-behavioral Health During COVID-19
The Behavioral Health Workforce Research Center at the University of Michigan has released a research brief covering the use of tele-behavioral health services during the COVID-19 pandemic. The findings of the research include significant increases in use of tele-behavioral health and organizational telehealth capabilities.

(10/16/20) How Virtual Care Can Be Refined to Reach Those Who Need It Most
In this article, multiple experts are interviewed for their perspective on how to improve access to health care utilizing telehealth services and technology. Although virtual care offers some benefits to address issues with physical access to care, there are still issues with ensuring the technology is distributed and accessible equitably.

(10/15/20) CMS Will Reimburse for 11 New Telehealth Services During the Public Health Emergency
New guidance from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has added 11 additional services to the list of reimbursable Medicare telehealth services. These additional services expand into such practices as neurology and both cardiac and pulmonary rehabilitation services.

(10/14/20) As Telehealth Surges, Dermatology Brings Experience With Access and Sustainability
Utilization of telehealth technology has expanded rapidly with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, with apparent long-term staying power. This blog post from Health Affairs covers some of the opportunities and challenges for telehealth continuing forward based on the use thus-far in the pandemic.

(10/13/20) Top 3 Concerns with the 2021 Medicare Physician Fee Schedule Rule
This article discusses some of the changes proposed for the 2021 Medicare Fee Schedule, which has some provider groups worried. These proposed changes include cuts to some specialty payments, changes to telehealth services eligible for reimbursement, and new quality reporting requirements.

(10/13/20) CMS Faces Another Call to Expand Telehealth Coverage for Specialists
An article covering calls from members of Congress to the the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to expand coverage for telehealth-based audiology and speech-language pathology services during the COVID-19 pandemic.

(10/12/20) Telemedicine for Drug Addiction Treatment: A Research Roundup and 5 Reporting Tips
This research roundup provides some information on utilization of telehealth services for drug addiction treatment. While the COVID-19 pandemic has captured the most attention this year, the United States is still dealing with a major crisis in drug and alcohol abuse.

(10/08/20) Establishing a Value-Based ‘New Normal’ for Telehealth
This blog post is part of the “Higher Health Care Value Post COVID-19” series from Health Affairs and highlights some of the policies and actions that have enabled widespread implementation and adoption of telehealth technology, as well as charting a path forward for Telehealth post-pandemic.

(10/07/20) Patient Satisfaction With Telehealth High Following COVID-19
An article covering the results of the J.D. Power 2020 US Telehealth Satisfaction Study, which has found that while telehealth is yielding high patient satisfaction ratings, there are still significant barriers to access for nearly half of patients.

(10/06/20) Telehealth’s Digital Divide Is Real, and Members of Congress Want to Address It
This article covers the legislative attempts being made in the House of Representatives to expand access to telehealth services following significant barriers seen throughout the pandemic. The focus of the legislation is to demand studies of the effectiveness of telehealth, expand broadband access, and ensure reimbursement to maintain the technology.

(10/05/20) Telehealth Patients Still Have Quality Doctor Time
This article covers the findings of a new study on surgical follow-ups conducted via telehealth technology. The study found that while patients spent more time at appointments in-person, this included checking in and time spent in the waiting room, and ultimately both telehealth and in-person appointments spent approximately 8 minutes discussing with their surgeon.

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