Coordinated telehealth programs are among the most cost-effective solutions for managing patients with medically complex or chronic conditions. Philips Healthcare offered this view, along with specific recommendations, in comments filed with the US Senate Finance Committee in response to the committee’s request for ideas on how to improve care for Medicare patients with chronic conditions.
“Telehealth technologies have undergone a transformation that has created new capabilities that are not currently reflected in public policy,” Philips said to the committee. “These changes are permitting providers with new capabilities to address population health in ways that have not been possible in the past.”
Better communication and coordination via telehealth leads to prevention or reduced severity that, in turns, leads to less hospitalization and emergency department use for many chronic care patients, according to the comments.
Philips offered suggestions for policy changes that would:
- Remove current location and geographical restrictions that prevent Medicare payment for telehealth.
- Introduce new types of coordinated care models for patients with complex medical conditions that would incorporate telehealth services.
- Broaden the definition of telehealth to recognize its integration with clinical, psychosocial, and other supportive services.
- Introduce new funding mechanisms that would allow providers to fully implement current telehealth technologies and capabilities.
- Recognize that interoperability of electronic health records is central to improving care for patients with multiple chronic conditions.