CCHP in the News

CCHP staff frequently contribute to articles on telehealth’s most pressing issues.

  • Interview with Mario Gutierrez, Part Two: "The practice of healthcare would be turned on its head"

    Healthcare Analytics News

    In the first half of HCA News’s conversation with Mario Gutierrez (pictured), the CCHP’s executive director, he spoke of the need for systemic changes in approach to advance telehealth. In this second part, Gutierrez goes on to talk about how telehealth policy is evolving nationwide, and what an ideal outcome would be for the CCHP’s mission.  In terms of telehealth policy, do you see some regions of the country pushing ahead and others lagging behind? It’s kind of like a dog race, some state will emerge and do something interesting and another state will do something that goes backwards. The problem is that, in order to really reform how telehealth is used in a particular state and particularly for their Medicaid patients, there has to be a couple of things. One is a real commitment to moving away from fee-for-service to a more value-based approach, working with payers to serve a population. Telehealth becomes very attractive when it’s not just another fee to bill. Secondly, we define the policy areas into several key budgets, and unless the state is willing to look at all of that rather than just piecemeal it, they’re not going to make much progress.

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  • Executive Director of the Center for Connected Health Policy: "It's about a culture change"

    Healthcare Analytics News

    As the landscape of health continues to evolve, with massive advances at the technological level but widespread uncertainty in health policy, it’s difficult to determine the role that new technologies can play, or will be allowed to play, down the road. The Center for Connected Care Health Policy, or CCHP, has worked for nearly a decade now to advocate for the use of telehealth as a means to streamline care, lower costs, and put patients at the center of the healthcare system. Initially begun to advocate for legal telehealth reform in the state of California, the CCHP has since become the leading, federally-designated national body for the movement. Mario Gutierrez, the Center’s executive director, kindly granted HCA News an interview (fittingly, conducted by telephone) this March to speak about the organization’s aims and the current state of telehealth policy across the country. 

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  • Telemedicine Could Be Great, if People Stopped Using It Like Uber

    Wired

    THESE DAYS, MORE people are working from home, shopping from home, and yes, even seeing the doctor from home. Last year more than a million people traded the waiting room for the comfort of their own couch—which sure beats thumbing through a sad collection of creased magazines. Today, telehealth is touted as one of the chief ways to deal with rural residents left behind by hospital consolidation, as well as the 20 million new patients the Affordable Care Act brought into the health care system. Its value hinges on the premise that patients will use telehealth options instead of going to the doctor or the urgent care clinic. But a new study released today shows that people are using phone-a-physician services in addition to in-person visits, not as a substitute. And the result of the Uber-ization of health care is an increase in overall costs. In April 2012, CalPERS Blue Shield started covering telehealth visits for their 300,000 insurance enrollees. 

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  • Where Teleneurology is Expanding, and Who is Paying For It

    Neurology Today

    Technology-enabled physician visits and other telemedicine applications have long been snubbed by payers and burdened by a patchwork of state regulations. But as the health care value movement takes hold, those who kept telemedicine on the sidelines are beginning to see its charms.Indeed, 29 states have passed laws requiring private insurers to pay for telemedicine-delivered services in the same way they pay for in-person care, and 48 states provide some Medicaid coverage. And even Medicare, which has never been friendly to telemedicine, may be changing its attitude.“I guess I'm the most optimistic I've ever been in terms of the alignment between the [Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services] leadership with the intent of Congress to do something about this,” said Mario Gutierrez, executive director of the Center for Connected Health Policy, a national nonprofit organization that develops and advances telemedicine policies and resources.

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  • The Future of Telemedicine: Two Perspectives

    Healh Management

    The Center for Connected Health Policy is an organisation that is vocal about policy reforms on integrating telehealth virtual technologies into the American health care system. Mei Wa Kwong, Policy Advisor and Project Director spoke to HealthManagement.org about the legal challenges of harmonising telehealth/medicine across borders.
    What, from the perspective of the Center for Connected Health Policy, have been the greatest challenges in 'harmonising' telehealth regulations across the U.S.? The way the US health care system is structured, you have multiple entities who pay for care. You have government programmes like Medicare on the federal level and Medicaid on the state level as well as private insurers who provide insurance through employers or private purchase. This creates layers of different policies in law, regulations and the insurers own individual policies. So already you have a complicated environment to navigate. Now multiple that 51 times (50 states and the District of Columbia) and you can see how daunting and complicated the policy environment is around telehealth. And what I’ve just described is only one aspect of policy. You also have other laws, regulations and policies that aren’t necessarily specific to telehealth but impact it such as licenses to practice medicine.

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  • Telemedicine Helps Link Children, Mental Health Specialists in ER Cases

    mHealth Intelligence

    Telemedicine access to mental health experts can significantly improve outcomes for pediatric cases in an ER or urgent care clinic, a new study has found. In a report presented at the recent American Academy of Pediatrics National Conference and Exhibition in San Francisco, Alison Brent, MD, medical director of Children’s Hospital Colorado, says more than half of the emergency pediatric mental health cases studied were discharged with a scheduled outpatient follow-up. And in almost all cases, both provider and patient said they were highly or extremely satisfied with the care they received. The report adds to the growing evidence base that telemedicine can not only improve patient care and outcomes in rural locations, but enable smaller hospitals and clinics to keep more of their patients and reduce costly transfers and unnecessary hospitalizations. Brent studied 504 cases of individuals aged 18 or younger admitted to one of five ED or urgent care locations with a mental health emergency. She notes that one in five children involved in an emergency care situation needs psychiatric services, yet many EDs and urgent care sites don’t have those specialists on staff. 

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  • Pennsylvania Joins Telehealth-Friendly Licensing Compact for Doctors

    mHealth Intelligence

    Pennsylvania has joined the group of states supporting the telehealth-friendly Interstate Medical Licensure Compact, which goes into effect in just over two months. Gov. Tom Wolf’s signature last week on legislation unanimously approved by both the state House and Senate makes Pennsylvania the 18th state to sign onto the compact, which establishes a streamlined application process for physicians looking to practice in more than one state. “In the world of apps and telehealth, the interstate compact allows qualified, licensed physicians to follow this new technology across state lines,” Andy Carter, president and CEO of the Hospital and Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania, said in a statement issued after Wolf’s signature. “Equally important, as many rural areas of Pennsylvania face physician shortages, is the ability for doctors to move back and forth across state borders.” Wolf’s signature ends a year-long process by Republican State Rep. Jesse Topper to see his bill become a law.

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  • New Report Charts Slow Progress for Telehealth Reimbursement

    mHealth Intelligence

    Telehealth is slowly becoming an accepted means of delivering healthcare, according to the latest state-by-state analysis of the Center for Connected Health Policy. An update of the CCHP’s fourth annual report, issued in March, finds that three states have added store-and-forward telehealth to their Medicaid programs and three have added some form of remote patient monitoring since that time. Of special note, Hawaii has mandated, as of 2017, that liability insurers provide malpractice insurance for providers using telehealth at the same rate for in-person services. “This may inspire other states to introduce similar legislation in the future,” the report stated. The August edition of CCHP’s “State Telehealth laws and Medicaid Program Policies,” a 244-page update of the organization’s March report, notes that states are moving slowly, and in a piecemeal fashion, toward telehealth adoption and reimbursement. In all, it said, 44 states have introduced more than 150 telehealth-related pieces of legislation this year. The CCHP, one of 14 federal telehealth resource centers scattered across the country, notes that while some states are moving forward, others are enacting laws “to restrict or place limitations on telehealth delivered services.”

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  • Survey: No Reimbursement, No Telehealth

    mHealth Intelligence

    Primary care physicians aren’t using telehealth because they aren’t reimbursed for it. That’s the gist of a survey of about 550 family physicians, conducted in 2014, which found doctors staying away from the technology because Medicare and many commercial payers aren’t paying for it. "Payment is not aligned with services yet," Megan Coffman, MS, a researcher for the Robert Graham Center for Policy Studies in Family Medicine and Primary Care, recently told AAFP News. "We have to find different ways to incentivize rural providers to use it, and not just through fee-for-service." 

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  • Telehealth Terminology: ‘Store-and-Forward’ Has its Fans - And Critics

    mHealth Intelligence

    The ongoing battle in Arkansas over new telemedicine guidelines is shining a spotlight on “store and forward” technology. Long considered the alternative to real-time (or live interactive) telemedicine, store and forward (or asynchronous) telemedicine generally gives a clinician time to review data before beginning a session. As defined by the Department of Veterans Affairs, it’s “the acquisition and storing of clinical information (e.g. data, image, sound, video) that is then forwarded to (or retrieved by) another site for clinical evaluation.” According to the Center for Connected Health Policy, store and forward “can include X-rays, MRIs, photos, patient data and even video-exam clips (and) primarily take place among medical professionals to aid in diagnoses and medical consultations when live video or face-to-face contact is not necessary.” 

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  • What’s Preventing the Telehealth Market from Booming? One Lawyer Weighs In (Part 1)

    Healthcare Informatics

    A recent report from the Center for Connected Health Policy (CCHP), a program of the Public Health Institute, an Oakland, Calif.-based organization dedicated to promoting health through research and training, found that when it comes to telehealth laws and reimbursement policies, legislators and policy makers across the country seem to be taking one step forward and then one step back. For instance, while many states are beginning to expand telehealth reimbursement, others continue to restrict and place limitations on telehealth delivered services, according to the report, which was covered by Healthcare Informatics Assistant Editor Heather Landi in April. As such, there is no shortage of legal issues that healthcare providers, hospitals, and startup companies should be aware of regarding telemedicine services. Nathaniel Lacktman, head of law firm Foley & Lardner’s telemedicine and virtual care practice, has been at the practice for 12 years.  

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  • South Carolina Gov. Signs Bill Expanding How Doctors Can Use Telehealth Techniques

    StateScoop

    South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley just signed a bill aimed at letting more physicians in the state use telehealth techniques when treating patients and setting standards for the practice. Haley signed S.B. 1035 into law last week, and the legislation clears the way for many doctors to establish relationships with patients solely through telemedicine technology, like video conferencing. The “South Carolina Telemedicine Act” also stipulates that physicians treating people virtually “adhere to the same standard of care” as they would if they were seeing patients in person, in addition to laying out other requirements through the state’s medical board for doctors hoping to use telehealth. State Sen. Brad Hutto, one of the bill’s sponsors, told StateScoop he expects the new law will massively expand the use of the technology in South Carolina, calling the legislative effort a result of his “realization that the delivery of health care in rural areas is changing.”

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  • Study: States Make Minor Progress on Telehealth-Friendly Policies

    State Scoop

    States have made only incremental progress in passing laws that let more physicians practice medicine using video conferencing or other digital methods, according to a new report from a telemedicine advocacy group. The Center for Connected Health Policy released its overview of telehealth-focused legislation around the country late last month, and the group found that for every state that passed a telemedicine law in 2015, another added some form of restriction on the practice. Since July 2015, researchers found that 47 states (and Washington, D.C.) currently offer Medicaid reimbursements for video conferencing services, with Utah dropping off the list from a year ago. Additionally, the number of states offering similar reimbursements for “store and forward” services — a telehealth technique where patient data is electronically transmitted to an intermediate location and stored there before it’s sent to a physician — remains at nine, after Washington approved the practice and Oklahoma disallowed it.

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  • New Report Paints a Frustrating Picture for Telehealth Advancement

    mHealth Intelligence

    An analysis of state telehealth and Medicaid reimbursement policies finds a wide range of connected health practices across the country – so varied, in fact, that states can’t even agree on a definition for telehealth.The fourth annual report, prepared by the Center for Connected Health Policy, finds a national landscape that’s just as confusing as ever, with some states moving forward while others are falling back. The result, CCHP officials say, is a “confusing environment for telehealth participants to navigate, particularly when a health system provides healthcare services in multiple states.”

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  • Live Video Is Most Prominent Reimbursed Form Of Telehealth

    Health IT Outcomes

    While a number of states are expanding telehealth reimbursement, other are restricting them according to The Center for Connected Health Policy’s most recent annual guide on state telehealth laws and reimbursement policies for 2015. The report, State Telehealth Laws and Medicaid Program Policies: A Comprehensive Scan of the 50 States and District of Columbia, aims to provide the most current summary guide of telehealth-related policies, laws, and regulations across the nation and specified 11 telehealth-related policy areas ranging from the definition of the word telehealth/telemedicine to various reimbursements, consent issues, and online prescribing. The report also found confusion among telehealth participants is common because of a lack of consistency in definition of telehealth and its regulation. And Alabama, New Jersey, and Rhode Island have yet to impose a definition for telemedicine at all.

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