New Bill Introduced to Expand Telehealth Services
In May, bi-partisan legislation was introduced in the United States Senate to expand telehealth and remote patient monitoring to Medicare patients. The ‘Creating Opportunities Now for Necessary and Effective Care Technologies for Health Act of 2017’ (CONNECT) is intended to increase the use of telehealth and remote patient monitoring while lowering costs for patients and providers. A 2016 Deloitte survey found that 70% of U.S. health care consumers are likely to use at least one form of remote technology. More than half of those surveyed also stated that they are interested in utilizing telemedicine for post-surgical care and chronic disease monitoring.
Legislators are hoping that CONNECT builds upon the promising foundation of support for telehealth and remote monitoring. Two Republican U.S. Senators from Mississippi, Thad Cochran, and Roger Wicker introduced the CONNECT legislation claiming that their state is already a leader in utilizing telehealth to bring healthcare to many of their rural populations.
Other aspects of the CONNECT legislation include:
- Expanding telehealth services in accountable care organizations, for acute stroke evaluations, home dialysis therapies, and in Medicare Advantage.
- Expand remote monitoring for patients with certain chronic conditions.
- Expand telehealth and remote technologies in rural health clinics and community care centers.
- Ease restrictions on telehealth services when specific quality and cost-effectiveness criteria are met.
- Broaden the utilization of tele-mental health services through live, audio-visual connections.
As CONNECT winds its way through the legislative process, what might the future of telehealth look like? The telehealth market is currently expanding in many directions including into Primary Care and Specialty Care areas. Soon, any patient who is managing a chronic disease like diabetes or heart disease will have access to telehealth services over costly office visits. Another prime area for expansion will be in the wearables market as consumers will be going beyond just wearing their Apple Watch or Fitbit. More devices are on the way such as blood glucose readers, multi-functional diagnostic devices, and a wide range of biosensors to more completely enable remote monitoring.
The healthcare market is ripe for the continued growth of technology solutions expanding access to care, maintaining and even improving quality and lowering costs. Consumers continue to show interest in these types of solutions, and clearly, once the concern about patient data safety is overcome, the telemedicine market will skyrocket.
We want to hear from you. What are your experiences with remote health monitoring or telehealth? Is your organization preparing for the inevitable expansion of telehealth services? Please share your thoughts with us in the comment section below or drop us a line on our Facebook page.
Marian Meidell LaReno
I certainly hope that this will also be considered for those patients eligible to participate in a cardiac rehab program who cannot afford the co-pays and/or do not have reliable transportation to attend a program.