A newly formed alliance is looking to ensure that advancements for telehealth remain at the forefront of policymakers' minds.
The group--the Alliance for Connected Care--is being launched by former U.S. Senators Tom Daschle (pictured), Trent Lott and John Breaux, who intend to focus on raising awareness about the benefits of telehealth while simultaneously pushing for regulations that don't impede patient access to care via methods such as remote monitoring.
New payment and care delivery reforms, as well as patient engagement efforts, will be reliant on new technology enabling connectivity, according to Daschle.
"We must ensure that our regulatory environment appropriately balances the exciting advances in technology for patients, while still maintaining safeguards that allow innovation," he said in an announcement. "To put it in perspective, the legal structure around telehealth was established in 2000, when cell phones were still just phones."
The alliance's objectives, as outlined in a one one-pager, include:
- Showing why connected care tools are important to improving quality and efficiency
- Finding champions for connected care among federal legislators
- Lifting regulatory barriers to the growth and implementation of connected care
- Establishing a standardized but flexible definition of connected care on a federal level
"Fully realizing the promise of connected care demands urgency among policymakers to foster a regulatory structure that enables safe use of remote patient care technology," Breaux said.
Current companies serving as board members for the alliance include Verizon, WellPoint, CVS, Teladoc and Welch Allyn.
Research published in the February issue of Health Affairs determined that state policies have a big impact on whether hospitals decide to offer telehealth services. According to the study, 42 percent of U.S. hospitals currently have telehealth capabilities. Teaching hospitals, the researchers said, as well as those equipped with additional advanced medical technology and members of larger systems and nonprofit institutes are more likely to offer such services.
Lawmakers including Sen. Jon Thune (R-S.D.), recently applauded the Federation of State Medical Boards for efforts to find licensing solutions for multistate practice and advance telehealth itself.