Health IT Roundup—Senators urge DEA to ease telehealth restrictions; FCC officials on rural health connectivity

Telemedicine consultation
Three Republican senators want the DEA to expedite rulemaking that would expand opioid treatment via telemedicine.
(Getty/AndreyPopov)

Senators ask DEA to loosen telemedicine opioid treatment restrictions

Three Republican senators have asked the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) to “expedite” rulemaking that would allow providers to prescribe medication for opioid addiction via telemedicine. The lawmakers—including two Senators from Alaska—say the DEA must authorize a special registration process to allow providers to prescribe controlled substances to support President Donald Trump’s public health emergency declaration that expands telehealth treatment options. (Release)

FCC commissioners say better broadband will improve cancer care

Closing the connectivity gap in rural areas of the country would have a huge impact for providers using connected health technologies to care for cancer patients, according to Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai and Commissioner Mignon Clyburn. In an op-ed highlighting the benefits of digital health technology and telemedicine, the officials said they are devoting more money to expanding mobile broadband in rural areas of the country and partnering with the National Cancer Institute to focus on using broadband connectivity to assist patients with cancer. (Lexington Herald-Leader)

HIMSS, PCHAlliance call for more rural health funding

Echoing comments from other health IT associations, HIMSS and the Personal Connected Health Alliance advocated for the FCC to raise its annual funding cap for the Rural Health Care Program that supports broadband connectivity for providers. In a letter to the agency, the advocacy groups said the cap should be “increased at rates that reflect the integral role of broadband connectivity to an increasing number of healthcare delivery functions” and raised concerns about prioritizing funding based solely on provider location. (Letter) (PDF)

Researchers: Care delivery innovation needs a bigger focus on data

Based on a study of accountable care organizations, advanced primary care practice and an initiative aimed at improving heart health, researchers from the Oregon Health & Sciences University and the University of California, San Francisco found the ability to analyze and exchange data plays an integral role in the success of innovative delivery models. Failed efforts are often tied to an inability to use data to motivate change. (Health Affairs)