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.

(07/16/21) United States: A Target On Telehealth: Government Action Against Telehealth Fraud In The Wake of COVID-19
Preventing telehealth fraud was a priority for the United States Department of Justice even prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. Given the widespread adoption of telehealth during the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency, this article published in Mondaq discusses the efforts from the government to combat fraud in telehealth service delivery.

(07/03/21) Health Technology in School-based Health Centers: Supporting Continuous Care During COVID-19
This research article published in the journal Health Technology examines the use of telehealth services in school-based health centers. As the COVID-19 pandemic led to dramatic and unprecedented, widespread use of telehealth, this research can help identify benefits and difficulties in implementation of telehealth programs in both schools as well as in other medical settings.

(06/28/21) Floridians’ Access to Telehealth Could Suffer As State Order Expires
Even though telehealth services surged during the COVID-19 pandemic, health care providers are uncertain about the future of telehealth now that the public health emergency is ending. In Florida, as of last week, telephones are no longer acceptable to deliver telehealth services to non-Medicare patients and physicians cannot use telehealth to prescribed controlled substances for treating chronic non-malignant pain.

(06/28/21) Uncertain Telehealth Laws Keep Substance Abuse Care Providers on Their Toes
Substance abuse care providers, including mental and behavioral health providers, who used telehealth services like MAT therapy during COVID-19, are uncertain about how post COVID-19 telehealth rules will affect how they use telehealth. Some states have revised their telehealth rules based on the pandemic while other states are waiting for the federal government to set a long-term policy.

(06/17/21) Audit Finds Telehealth Services for Mental Health May Be at Risk
New York State’s COVID-19 state of emergency has enabled rapid expansion and adoption of telehealth services, however, without action from the state, hundreds of mental health providers will no longer be able to provide services via telehealth once the state of emergency ends.

(06/16/21) #ATA2021: Telehealth Is Key to Equity and Access for Every Patient Population
This podcast clip introduces a recent case study that explains how telehealth can help address healthcare disparities by improving access to care for vulnerable and disadvantaged communities. Telehealth can be combined with higher privacy protection and translation technologies that can expand the primary care services to the homeless and people with limited English proficiency. Additionally, the study also highlights that the use of telehealth helped providers reduce costs and seniors be familiar with digital devices.

(06/15/21) AMA Adopts Policies to Advance Telehealth, Close Digital Divide and Tackle Prior Authorization Burdens
The American Medical Association has approved new policies to help advance telehealth, rural health, and COVID-19-related difficulties experienced throughout the pandemic. Some of these changes include new methods for reimbursing for health care delivery both in-person and digitally and advising the federal government on equitable distribution of resources, such as personal protective equipment.

(06/13/21) Patient Characteristics Associated With the Successful Transition to Virtual Care: Lessons Learned From the First Million Patients
This journal article from the Sage Journal’s Journal of Telemedicine and Telecare analyzes the impact of the increased use of telehealth to maintain ambulatory care during the COVID-19 pandemic. The study assessed patient characteristics that were associated with the successful transition from in-person to virtual care as well as the differences in video and audio-only participation.

(06/10/21) Telehealth Has Enabled Wider Access During COVID-19 – But Not for Everyone
The American Telemedicine Association held their annual conference recently, which brought light to the many changes the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated relating to telehealth service delivery, use, and acceptance. One major issue highlighted at the conference, however, is the inequities in access to telehealth services, which depend on internet access and english language proficiency, among other issues.

(06/09/21) Opportunities in a Time of Crisis: Launching Innovative Long-term Care Programs During COVID-19
In this commentary published by United Hospital Fund, the author advocates for using telehealth in innovative ways in long-term care settings. The long-term care industry has experienced high rates of turnover, shortages in workers, and other challenges since prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, and telehealth may offer solutions to improve outcomes for both patients and providers.

(06/08/21) The Transition of Academic Mental Health Clinics to Telehealth During the COVID-19 Pandemic
New research published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, documented and evaluated the rapid transition to telehealth services at eight academic child and adolescent psychiatry programs in the US and Canada. The research found documenting the barriers and successes to telehealth services can help to promote better telehealth practice in the future.

(06/07/21) COVID Was a Tipping Point for Telehealth. If Some Have Their Way, Virtual Visits Are Here to Stay
This article jointly published by Kaiser Health News and USA Today highlights the changes to telehealth delivery in the United States during the COVID-19 pandemic, and efforts by some to ensure it becomes a permanent fixture in the health care system. Telehealth visits sured initially in the pandemic and have leveled off at more than 10% of all visits weekly, compared to approximately 1% prior to the pandemic.

(05/25/21) What Role Can Telehealth Play in Emergency Medicine?
This article from Managed Healthcare Executive discusses the potential for the COVID-19 pandemic to drive a shift to the use of telehealth in emergency medicine situations. Studies prior to the pandemic identified telescreening to be as efficient as in-person screening and can ensure patients are screened and treated as quickly as possible in emergency departments.

(05/25/21) House Reps Seek to Permanently Safeguard Audio-only Telehealth Coverage
A bipartisan bill introduced to the US House of Representatives seeks to add permanent coverage to audio-only telehealth services. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services allowed audio-only telehealth delivery during the public health emergency of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has primarily benefited patients who are rural, low-income, elderly, and those with physical limitations.

(05/24/21) No-cancel Culture: How Telehealth Is Making It Easier to Keep That Therapy Session
This article, jointly published by Kaiser Health News and NBC News, highlights ways in which the rapid transition to wide-scale telehealth use during the COVID-19 pandemic appears to have had the positive consequence of patients skipping fewer appointments.

(05/20/21) The Pandemic Proved Hospitals Can Deliver Care To Seriously Ill Patients at Home
Studies have suggested that newly introduced at-home models of care are cost effective and provide better health outcomes for seriously ill patients. This telehealth model of care was widely adopted last year when the Center for Medicaid & Medicare Services expanded its program. The program offered at-home acute hospital care for patients with COVID-19 and other acute illnesses in efforts to mitigate surge capacity issues during the COVID-19 pandemic. This extension provided more flexibility to health care systems and freed up hospital beds during the COVID-19 public health emergency.

(05/14/21) Podcast: 3 Unanswered Questions For Telehealth’s Future
This episode of the Health Affairs podcast, Health Affairs This Week, looks at the questions remaining following the rapid implementation and expansion of telehealth services in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The three main questions addressed include: Should Medicare continue payment parity? Where does payment reform stand on telehealth? And what are the current barriers affecting implementation of telehealth?

(05/14/21) Federal Funding for Emergency Home Visits for Families Includes Telehealth
New COVID-19 pandemic relief funding is being released by the United States Department of Health and Human Services to aid in the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program. This program utilizes telehealth services to deliver health care services to families who cannot be seen in person due to pandemic related difficulties.

(05/03/21) Telebehavioral Health Workforce Opportunities During the COVID-19 Pandemic
This report from the Behavioral Health Workforce Research Center at the University of Michigan School of Public Health focuses on the behavioral health workforce development opportunities resulting from the widespread, rapid adoption of telebehavioral health services.

(04/23/21) Virtual Care Spreads in Missouri Health System, Home to ‘Hospital Without Beds’
This article from Kaiser Health News and U.S. News & World Report highlights the operation of the St. Louis, Missouri-based Mercy Virtual Care Center, described as the world’s first “hospital without beds” by officials. The Mercy health system estimates 660,000 virtual visits have occurred in their system since the beginning of the pandemic, with 85% of their providers utilizing telehealth to reach their patients.

(04/16/21) Round 2 of the COVID-19 Telehealth Program Application Portal Will Open April 29
Applications for the second round of the COVID-19 telehealth program will open on Thursday, April 29, 2021. This week-long filing window will offer additional funding to support providers seeking to provide telehealth services struggling with telecommunications services, lack of devices, and lack of information about providing telehealth.

(04/12/21) Permanent Changes Finally Coming to Telehealth
As a result of the COVID-19 epidemic, telehealth is evolving. New rules by the federal government have expanded access to virtual health care services and expanded medicare coverage for telehealth services.

(04/11/21) Telehealth Impact – Patient Survey Analysis
A study on the impact of telehealth on patient attitudes and patient experience has found that more than 70% of patients reported high satisfaction with telehealth services and a desire to continue using telehealth following the COVID-19 pandemic.

(04/02/21) CMS Expands Telehealth Coverage for Audiologists, Speech-Language Pathologists
After failing to see an expanded role in initial COVID-19 telehealth expansion legislation, audiologists and speech-language pathologists are seeing expanded reimbursable services from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services provided through telehealth.

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