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How Telehealth Polices Help Shape Care, Improve Access to Quality

Mei Wa Kwong, JD, executive director at Center for Connected Health Policy (CCHP), discusses how CCHP, an organization working to advance telehealth policies, improves health outcomes as well as access to quality services, during a session at PCMH Congress 2019.

Ms Kwong started the session by offering a brief overview of CCHP. She said,” CCHP is an independent, public interest organization that strives to advance state and national telehealth policies promoting better systems of care, improve outcomes, and provide greater access to quality, affordable care and services.”

CCHP allows users to access their website to better understand telehealth state-by-state policies, laws, and regulations. Users can search by category and topic for things like Medicaid reimbursement, private payer reimbursement, and professional regulation/ health & safety.

More specifically, she explained that “telehealth is a means of enhancing health care, public health, and health education delivery and support using digital telecommunication technologies.”

She explained that telehealth technologies actually help with PCMH. Ms Kwong shared some of the following testimonials:

“In meeting staffing challenges implementing PCMH, some Indian Health Service (IHS) clinics have successfully employed telemedicine to address this issue,” said the Rand Corporation.

Additionally, the American Academy of Pediatrics said, “Telehealth technologies help with PCMH because it can provide greater coordination of care with multiple providers. Tech will help centralize it with the PCP [primary care provider].”

Although many praised this use of technology, one recent concern regarding its use its fragmentation.

“Telehealth may expand service access but risks further fragmentation of care and undermining of the primary care function absent better coordination and information sharing with usual sources of patients’’ care,” wrote the authors of a study published online in the Journal of American Medical Informatics Association, Ms Kwong said.

She explained that possible drivers of fragmentation include lack of interoperability, direct to consumer telehealth, and telehealth reimbursement.

She also noted that “Medicare telehealth statutory policy is very limited and has not changed much.”

As of April 2019, however, she reported that Medicaid reimbursement by service modality varies across the country. Further, reimbursement requirements for private payers are not in every state. She explained that 39 states and Washington DC have telehealth private payer laws.

For more information visit www.cchpca.org, or www.telehealthresourcecenter.org. —Julie Gould

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