HITN & Others Send Letter to HHS on Telemedicine

The Health IT Now Coalition joined 10 other associations in writing a letter to recently-confirmed Secretary of Health and Human Services, Sylvia Mathews Burwell. The organizations look forward to Secretary Burwell’s leadership in shaping new ways to integrate and utilize innovative technologies that enable health information and communications technology (ICT) solutions to achieve improved care for Americans at lower costs.

ITIF: Unlocking the Potential of Physician-to-Patient Telehealth Services

“Imagine a world where patients in rural areas far from a nearby doctor can easily find a health care provider to consult with online from the comfort of their own homes; where doctors living in Pennsylvania can help reduce the backlog of patients waiting to see doctors in Mississippi; and where patients can connect to a doctor over the Internet for routine medical purposes with a few clicks of the mouse—like they do when ordering a book on Amazon. Fortunately, this vision could soon become reality, but only if the federal government and the states work quickly to remove regulatory barriers that limit the deployment and adoption of provider-to-patient telehealth capabilities.” The Information Technology & Innovation Foundation, May 2014.

The full report can be found here.

Schilling: Telemedicine’s time is now in the Central Valley and beyond

Telemedicine, a hazy term for most Californians, will soon enter the American lexicon. Overlooked by some as a viable solution to America’s health care woes, telemedicine grants the ability for health care providers to deliver patient care virtually. This concept is critical to the Central Valley and other rural areas across the nation.

“Improving healthcare for seniors through telemedicine” by Former Rep. Bill Gradison

Nowadays we can use our mobile devices to go almost anywhere, which has been a great advantage for many senior citizens. From the bank and the shopping mall to the supermarket and the movies, it’s not difficult to go about the day from the comforts of home. However, when it comes to seeing the doctor – a fairly common occurrence for many seniors – the idea of virtual visits gets a bit more problematic.

“Cut the red tape tying up e-medicine” Randy Milch, Politico

Cut the red tape tying up e-medicine
Politico by Randy Milch (Executive Vice President of Public Policy & General Counsel, Verizon)
January 25, 2013

In this country, we spend $3 trillion a year on health care — almost 20 percent of gross domestic product with such costs rising at more than 5 percent a year. At the same time, the state of Americans’ health has declined by almost 70 percent compared with the 1990s, with life expectancy now shorter than virtually any other developed country in the world.

The fact that costs are up and health care outcomes are down is particularly frustrating because so many of the potential solutions to shifting the “cost curve” and improving and expanding health care options are literally at our fingertips, if only policymakers could address outdated rules from the days when house calls were “mobile health care.”

Many of the most powerful answers to cost and access lie in the anytime-anywhere nature of high-speed broadband networks, which have engendered a host of devices and applications that both empower consumers to take greater control of their own health care and increase efficiencies in health care provision. Real-time video consultations with doctors, mobile devices with applications to improve diet and exercise, connected biometric devices for home health monitoring of vital signs, medication tracking, glucose level monitoring or even heart-attack detection are all in the medical marketplace. Verizon is doing its part by using our state-of-the-art networks to create a communications system that will allow the secure delivery of these e-medicine advances.

But today these technologies are hemmed in by state borders and legacy rules. For example, state-by-state practice requirements and fees inhibit the practice of telemedicine, a simple way to improve efficiency and delivery of care.

Technology allows us to monitor vital signs from miles away, use our smartphones or embedded wireless modules to measure key health indicators, and to examine CT scans taken in a facility across the country. Likewise, there has been a change in the way providers’ abilities are measured. Instead of relying solely on state-by-state requirements, credentialing and certification now occurs at the level of health care organizations.

The outdated legal barriers to solutions like telemedicine hurt those who need care the most — disadvantaged communities hit hard by chronic conditions such as heart disease and diabetes, rural populations with limited access to health care, and senior citizens relying on a dwindling number of primary-care providers in the Medicare and Medicaid programs.

FCC Announces $400M Healthcare Connect Fund

On Monday, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski announced that there will be upwards of a $400 million Healthcare Connect Fund. The FCC’s new Healthcare Connect Fund will spur the build out of broadband networks to support telemedicine. This will help connect rural clinics and providers to urban medical hubs and allow for immediate access to EHRs.