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Telehealth expansion continues, backed by executive order
by Paul Davenport Paul Davenport on

The expansion of telehealth services is among the few bright spots of recent world events, as healthcare providers have made it easier for a wider swath of non-emergency medical visits to take place virtually, while in-person treatment has been largely reserved for COVID-19 response.

As we discussed recently on the blog, this shift has been a boon for the industry, as providers and patients have largely found a comfortable balance in meeting each other digitally. In fact, estimates show that spend on virtual visits from federal and commercial payers will rise from $3 billion in 2019 to more than $250 billion this year.

It now looks like this growth trend will continue (though likely at a less staggering clip) as new government mandates are now encouraging a more standardized telehealth ecosystem going forward.

An executive order from the office of the President was signed last week that’s viewed as a big vote of confidence in the long-term efficacy of telehealth on the federal level, assuming providers continue actively addressing lingering issues of security and privacy.

For vendors, the mandate calls for greater fortification of their platforms against prevailing cybersecurity threats, while regulators will be tasked with holding the healthcare providers leveraging telehealth platforms to privacy standards on par with existing HIPAA regulations.

Most significantly, however, the mandate instructs the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to begin more thoroughly reviewing temporary telehealth measures that were put in place as emergency, stop-gap responses to COVID-19 for longer-term use. This includes continuing to offer Medicare beneficiaries coverage for additional telehealth services and to explore methods to increase access to healthcare in rural communities.

HHS and the Department of Agriculture are also being asked to collaborate with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) “and other executive departments and agencies, as appropriate, to develop and implement a strategy to improve rural health by improving the physical and communications healthcare infrastructure available to rural Americans.”

This all comes after internal analysis from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) documented “a weekly jump in virtual visits for CMS beneficiaries, from approximately 14,000 pre-public health emergencies to almost 1.7 million in the last week of April,” the order notes.

The biggest takeaway of all of this is that the nascent telehealth infrastructure in place across the country will start to take a more firm shape and expand its reach in the U.S. That means that for companies steering the telehealth platforms delivering these solutions to users across the map, they’ll need visibility out to users that may be beyond their current scope if they’re going to ensure their solutions are effectively providing care.

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Filed Under: industry insights

Tags: healthcare networks, healthcare IT, enterprise IT, network management, network performance monitoring, network monitoring, virtual visits, digital transformation, digital healthcare, virtual healthcare, healthcare, telehealth

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