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CMS Faces Another Call to Expand Telehealth Coverage for Specialists

More than 30 members of Congress have sent a letter to CMS Administrator Seema Verma asking her to expand COVID-19 telehealth coverage for audiology and speech-language pathology services.

By Eric Wicklund

October 13, 2020 – The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services is again facing calls to expand telehealth coverage for audiology and speech-language pathology during the coronavirus pandemic.

A group of 34 members of Congress has sent a letter to CMS Administrator Seema Verma asking her to give these specialists more opportunities to use telehealth to treat patients…

How Will Telehealth Access Shape Primary Care Access, Visits?

Increased telehealth access during the pandemic may have changed the content of primary care appointments. How will this affect care in the future?

By Sara Heath

October 13, 2020 – Telehealth was instrumental in offsetting some of the serious decrease in primary care access during the onset of the COVID-19 public health crisis, but a retrospective analysis is highlighting some potential shortcomings of telehealth for primary care.

Specifically, the study, published in JAMA Network Open, found that the insurgence of telehealth as a key primary care modality has changed the…

Hospital Admissions Remain Down, But That Isn’t Bad News for Home Health Providers

By Robert Holly | October 8, 2020

Hospital admissions across the U.S. fell dramatically in spring with the onset of the COVID-19 virus. That sudden drop, in turn, caused patient volumes to plummet for home health providers that work primarily with acute referral sources.

While hospital admissions rebounded in summer, they remain far below pre-pandemic levels, according to a recently published study in the journal Health Affairs. But that may actually be positive news for the home health industry.

To study hospitals’ admission patterns during the public health emergency,…

Number of MA Plans Offering In-Home Support Services to Increase by 93% in 2021

CMS’s Medicare Advantage preview from September revealed that 738 plans are offering supplemental benefits under the “primarily health-related” pathway in 2021, a 46% increase compared to the nearly 500 plans that did so in 2020.

The preview similarly showed that 920 plans are offering benefits under the Special Supplemental Benefits for the Chronically Ill (SSBCI) pathway next year, a nearly four-fold increase compared to the 245 plans that did so this year.

The latest data from last week offers deeper insights around the primarily health-related pathway, according to ATI…

Has Telehealth Filled the Primary Care Gap During the Pandemic?

Telehealth visits did account for 35 percent of all primary care encounters in Q2 2020, but it wasn’t enough to fill the primary care void at the height of COVID-19

Rajiv Leventhal Oct 12th, 2020

In response to the pandemic and shelter-in-place orders earlier this year, providers aggressively turned to telehealth for care delivery, when possible. But new research now shows that primary care visits still dropped 21 percent during the second quarter of 2020, even after accounting for telehealth appointments.

Researchers from Johns…

TELEHEALTH DOMINATES DURING COVID-19 PANDEMIC

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak, technology has become a necessary part of people’s everyday life—apps can be used to get groceries, communicate with family, or even become a doctor’s office.


For those of us living in the Denison bubble, we are confined to what the university is able to offer us, including access to wellness resources. A dire need for technological solutions during a pandemic and a rush to accommodate students’ wellness needs all across the world, however, can sometimes create more questions than solutions.


The stressors that come from quarantine, stay at home orders, and abruptly being sent away from college has led to increased mental illness in the United States throughout during the span of the pandemic. Telehealth, then, has become the perfect solution for those who want to continue their therapeutic treatment from the comfort of their own home.

 

Telehealth is an umbrella term for any kind of health-care done over remote electronic communication between two people—a provider and a patient. Telemedicine is between a nurse and patient, teletherapy is between a therapist and a client, the list goes on. Studies have been done to gauge the effectiveness of telehealth, and these studies concluded that the most positive results were specifically from behavioral health services through counseling and communication. However, there are a number of hoops to jump through when people try to access these resources, and even when institutions want to provide these resources.


For an established therapist, the transition to teletherapy can be extremely tricky to navigate. In addition to them having to learn how to do their job through a computer, there are very strict rules about providing therapy to a client who lives across state lines. Each state has different requirements to become a licensed therapist, and one has to go through a board in order to receive his or her title. For example: every counselor at Whisler is licensed in Ohio through the CSWMFT, or the Counselor, Social Worker and Marriage and Family Therapist Board. But the CSWMFT in Ohio has different jurisdiction as, say, a board in Virginia, a state that does not allow Ohio therapists to treat their constituents through telehealth. So not only did the therapists at Whisler have to tackle the implications of doing appointments over the internet, but there were still strict rules about where and when they were allowed to.


There are three options for teletherapy over state lines. There is unlimited care, limited care, and case management. Unlimited is full access to wellness resources, time-limited is permission from a state to provide therapy only during a state-wide emergency (COVID-19). Case management is, as Jack Wheeler an eco-psychologist employed through the Denison Wellness center explained, “identifying a need [for a client], and then finding resources where someone lives.” It is the last resort for a therapist who cannot provide for a client in a different state.


Wheeler spoke on some of the rapid changes for therapists on campus that resulted from the COVID-19 pandemic. “For the first two weeks after spring break we all did 13-hour trainings from different platforms to get as much information as we could,” he said.


Wheeler said even after he and his fellow counselors at Whisler were trained in telehealth, they had to call each state individually to see if they could provide services to their clients (in this case Denison students) or not. The counselors reportedly met every single day for an hour, trying to come up with ways to effectively provide care. Even then, some of them were forced to refer their clients to local resources, only able to provide them with case-management services. “It broke my heart to tell students I don’t have reciprocity,” Wheeler said, after explaining how hard it was for therapists so invested in their students to rely solely on laws and licensing rules to do their job. The rules are still changing every day from state-to-state as time-limited ordinances are expiring.


With that being said, there are still questions about the ethics of it all. Why do counselors do video calls instead of phone calls? What happens when a remote student in financial stress needs the free therapy from our institution but the best they can receive is case management?

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak, technology has become a necessary part of people’s everyday life—apps can be used to get groceries, communicate with family, or even become a doctor’s office.


For those of us living in the Denison bubble, we are confined to what the university is able to offer us, including access to wellness resources. A dire need for technological solutions during a pandemic and a rush to accommodate students’ wellness needs all across the world, however, can sometimes create more questions than solutions.


The stressors that come from quarantine, stay at…

Patient Barriers Still Exist with Telehealth Platforms

While telehealth use has increased in response to COVID-19 as well as patient satisfaction with the service, barriers still exist for patients trying to access it, including those at high risk, according to Troy-based J.D. Power.

The J.D. Power 2020 U.S. Telehealth Satisfaction Study was released Oct. 1.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has been a moment of truth for telehealth and, by most accounts, the technology is rising to the challenge and delivering a high degree of satisfaction among those who use it,” says James Beem, managing director of global…

California Gives Telehealth a Try with Community Paramedicine Legislation

Governor Gavin Newsom has signed legislation allowing local EMS providers to develop community paramedicine programs, which often use telehealth tools to screen 911 calls and improve care coordination at home.

By Eric Wicklund

October 12, 2020 – California is now allowing local EMS providers to develop community paramedicine programs, which could use telehealth or mHealth tools to triage 911 calls at home and divert patients from hospital ERs to more appropriate care providers.

Governor Gavin Newsom last month signed AB 1544, the Community Paramedicine or Triage to Alternate…

Trump Administration Invests $72 Million in Distance Learning and Telemedicine Infrastructure in 40 States, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands

Telemedicine

Distance Learning and Telemedicine Investments will Benefit More Than 12 Million Rural Residents

WASHINGTON, Oct. 7, 2020 – U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue today announced the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is investing $72 million in grants to help rural residents gain access to health care and educational opportunities. These investments will benefit more than 12 million rural residents.

“Increasing access to telemedicine and distance learning is critical to building healthier and more resilient rural communities,” said Secretary Sonny Perdue. “Paired with our monumental effort to expand high-speed broadband…

USDA invests $72 million in rural telehealth and education infrastructure

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue has announced that the USDA will distribute a combined $72 million in grants to help rural citizens access educational opportunities and telehealth care. The grants are expected to benefit over 12 million rural residents nationwide.

“Increasing access to telemedicine and distance learning is critical to building healthier and more resilient rural communities,” said Secretary Perdue.

“Paired with our monumental effort to expand high-speed broadband access in rural America, these investments will help rural health care centers and education institutions reach…

Treating Wounds Virtually Helps Manage Risks for Patients & Clinicians

In the midst of the novel coronavirus pandemic, statistics are demonstrating that telemedicine services offer the potential to improve access to quality care while reducing strain on patients, family caregivers, nurses and physicians. A 2019 study from the American Telemedicine Association demonstrated that the quality of health care services delivered via telemedicine are as good as those given in traditional in-person consultations. For health care systems, home telehealth options can help address the challenge of rising costs while also preventing the spread of disease from person to person. With the added strain of having to…

What Are the Top Telehealth, EHR Integrations in Healthcare?

Telehealth EHR integration has a number of critical benefits for both providers and patients.

By Christopher Jason

October 09, 2020 – Telehealth is increasingly becoming an option for remote patient care. But with clinician burden — most of which is caused by excessive health IT use — quickly mounting, clinical experts are looking for ways to streamline telehealth use into the clinician workflow. Telehealth and EHR integration could be the key for accomplishing this.

With EHR adoption at an all-time high, it’s optimal for clinicians to utilize telehealth…

Faster Troponin Times; Boosting Cardiac Rehab; Best Use of Telehealth

— Reports of quality improvement at hospitals across the country

by Nicole Lou, Staff Writer, MedPage Today October 9, 2020

Standardized processes and patient education were key to faster, better care for people with heart disease or suspected heart disease.

These and other lessons were emphasized in quality improvement initiatives shared at this year’s virtual ACC Quality Summit hosted by the American College of Cardiology.

Below is a selection of highlights:

  • A California emergency department (ED) cut 

ThinkLabs founder on healthcare innovations: ‘Convenience always wins’

Even after the pandemic, patients will be unwilling to return to the less-streamlined status quo, says Clive Smith.

By Kat Jercich October 09, 2020 01:29 PM

As the COVID-19 crisis began sweeping through the country this spring, hospitals sought a way for clinicians to treat infectious patients while maintaining distance from them if possible.

In that way, ThinkLabs founder Clive Smith told Healthcare IT News, smart devices that measured vital signs remotely, including from outside…

eHI Offers Recommendations on Telehealth, Licensure, Broadband

The eHealth Initiative has released a list of policy recommendations designed to improve telehealth adoption and coverage during and after the coronavirus pandemic.

By Eric Wicklund

October 09, 2020 – The eHealth Initiative has unveiled recommendations for federal policy changes to help expand telehealth access and coverage during and beyond the coronavirus pandemic.

The 22-page report comes roughly a month after a similar report issued by the Taskforce on Telehealth Policy, a group spearheaded by the American Telemedicine Association, Alliance for Connected Care and National Committee for Quality…

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