Groups urge use of remote monitoring for more connected healthcare

In comments submitted to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services this week, both Health IT Now and the Telecommunications Industry Association (TIA) urge increased use of remote patient monitoring technologies to create a more connected healthcare system. The comments came in response to CMS' request for information on the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation's Health Plan Innovation Model Concepts.

Health IT Now calls for the creation of a model telehealth program similar to that of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. "This model will ... create a continuum of care that is essential to patient care," the comments read. "The use of technology allows both providers and patients to remain engaged and informed about the condition or conditions being treated. It also allows for multiple providers to exchange data about a patient's condition and course of treatment."

Such a model, according to Health IT Now, would include clinical video technology, home telehealth and store-and-forward telehealth.

TIA, which also touts the benefits of the VA's system in its comments, calls for the examination of remote patient monitoring for congestive heart failure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and diabetes. It, however, asks CMS to prioritize technology and platform neutrality in CMMI program examinations.

"CMMI programs should set objectives, but avoid dictating how those objectives are met," TIA states. "Whether technologies that utilize or offer real-time interactive audio, or video telecommunications, asynchronous store-and-forward technologies, or remote monitoring services, the focus should be on the patient objectives and outcomes as opposed to the modality."

The VA, last month, announced that it provided remote care to more than 690,000 veterans during fiscal year 2014.

"A brick-and-mortar facility is not the only option for healthcare," VA Secretary Robert McDonald said. "We are exploring how we can more efficiently and effectively deliver healthcare services to better serve our veterans and improve their lives. Telehealth is one of those areas we have identified for growth."

In a just released final rule, CMS adds seven new telemedicine billing codes to the 2015 Medicare physician fee schedule, including those for annual wellness visits, psychotherapy and prolonged office visits.

To learn more:
- read Health IT Now's comments (.pdf)
- here are TIA's comments (.pdf)

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