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The Arizona Telemedicine Program Blog

Telemedicine involves monitoring patients, exchanging medical information and analyzing the results of various clinical exams. These exams are examined and handed digitally, giving invaluable support to traditional medicine. Telemedicine is already used worldwide, in a very safe and legal manner, complying with medical legislation and standards. With the utilization of data technologies that add quality and speed within the exchange of information, doctors can make decisions with greater agility and precision. Through telemedicine, specialists can access exams from anywhere within their practice jurisdiction, using platforms such as computers and mobile devices, like smartphones and tablets. This article provides an overview of 6 essential telemedicine books that are useful to help those interested in telemedicine improve their understanding of the field.

The long-awaited promise of telemedicine may finally be realized as a response to Covid-19.

For decades, advocates hailed telemedicine as the way forward to improve access and reduce cost, while maintaining high-quality care. There have been steady gains in investment and growth across the country, and an increasing number of studies suggest that for certain services, namely chronic care management and mental health services, telemedicine may be superior to in-person care. Specifically, studies showed better health outcomes through improved medication adherence, integration of medical tests, and reduced hospital readmissions. However, even with these positive steps, it would be a stretch to claim that telemedicine had transformed the US healthcare system and, in large part, that is because of legal barriers that were in place prior to Covid-19.

Depiction of doctor conducting telehealth video visit with patient

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act was signed into law by President Trump on March 27, 2020 in response to the COVID-19 public health emergency. The CARES Act provided $200 million to the FCC to support healthcare providers in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. On April 2, 2020 the FCC announced its COVID-19 Telehealth Program which provides funding of up to $1 million per applicant to “purchase telecommunications, information services, and connected devices to provide connected care services in response to the coronavirus pandemic.” As of April 29, 2020, the FCC has already awarded 30 applicants from 15 states funding totaling $13,700,581.  The average amount awarded is $456,686, with individual funding awards ranging from $26,180 to the maximum of $1,000,000.  Per the FCC order, “this funding opportunity will remain available until the funding is expended or the COVID-19 pandemic has ended,” and “applicants that have exhausted initially awarded funding may request additional support.”

Last week I wrote about the big changes to Medicare telehealth coverage during the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency (PHE). But Medicare coverage is only part of the story.

Here’s an overview of several other temporary telehealth policy changes and federal telehealth programs you should know about. (This is not a comprehensive list but rather an overview of some of the most notable actions taken so far. Before engaging in any telehealth encounter and relying on a given regulation, I recommend you check the appropriate website or reach out to your regional Telehealth Resource Center for the most up-to-date information.)

Since the founding of the United States of America, we have made significant strides in advancing health justice, but the accompanying fight to ensure that every individual has a fair opportunity to achieve their optimal level of health is shaping up to be one of the defining challenges of our time. One of the major barriers to accomplishing this goal is the lingering presence of health inequalities — the differences in health and health care between population groups that occur across the life course and in many dimensions, including race/ethnicity, socioeconomic status, age, location, gender, disability status and sexual orientation.

If you have any involvement in providing healthcare, you are aware that Congress, multiple federal agencies, and states have made immense changes in healthcare regulation – especially in telehealth regulation – for the duration of the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency. Here is a brief summary of what is temporarily changed in terms of Medicare telehealth regulations – and it’s a lot!

The percent of eligible Arizona prescribers EPCS enabled is 23 percent above the national average as of February 2020. Learn what EPCS is and how it benefits both patients and providers statewide.

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