The federal government should encourage greater use of telehealth, a task force has recommended.
Among the changes recommended by the task force, it called on the federal government to make permanent some of the temporary extensions of the use of telehealth authorized for Medicare in response to COVID-19, including:
- Lifting geographic restrictions and limitations on originating sites.
- Allowing telehealth for various types of clinicians and conditions.
- Acknowledging, as many states now do, that telehealth visits can meet requirements for establishing a clinician/patient relationship if the encounter meets appropriate care standards or unless careful analysis demonstrates that, in specific situations, a previous in-person relationship is necessary.
- Eliminating unnecessary restrictions on telehealth across state lines.
In making these recommendations the task force noted that increased use of telehealth has not driven an increase in health care utilization or costs, as many feared; it has led to a decline in the frequency with which patients miss scheduled appointments; and it can prevent delays in patients seeking care and reduce exposure to pathogens.
Telehealth may be especially beneficial for private safety-net hospitals because they serve so many low-income patients for whom keeping doctors’ appointments often proves to be a challenge. If those patients have access to remote technologies, telehealth could become a valuable tool in improving and maintaining those patients’ health.
The Taskforce on Telehealth Policy is a collaboration between the National Committee for Quality Assurance, the Alliance for Connected Care, and the American Telemedicine Association.
Learn more about the task force’s work, including its findings and recommendations, in the document “Taskforce on Telehealth Policy (TTP) Findings and Recommendations.”