Industry Perspectives

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Early Impact Of CMS Expansion Of Medicare Telehealth During COVID-19

July 16, 2020


By Seema Verma, Administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS)

During the Coronavirus pandemic, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has taken unprecedented action to expand telehealth for Medicare beneficiaries. Since people were advised to stay at home to reduce risk of exposure of COVID-19, there was an urgency to increase access to telehealth services to help people who need routine care and allow beneficiaries to remain in their homes.  Early CMS data have shown telehealth to be an effective way for people to access health care safely during the COVID-19 pandemic, whether it’s getting a prescription refilled, managing chronic conditions, or obtaining mental health counseling. 

With these transformative changes unleashed over the last several months, it’s hard to imagine merely reverting to the way things were before. As the country re-opens, CMS is reviewing the flexibilities the administration has introduced and their early impact on Medicare beneficiaries to inform whether these changes should be made a permanent part of the Medicare program.

Telehealth in Times of Crisis & Calm

July 10, 2020

Healthcare practices face significant challenges when it comes to keeping their brick and mortar businesses alive in the face of evolving safety requirements and consumer expectations. NextGen Healthcare examines why telehealth is so vital to a practice's survival and future growth, how providers & patients can embrace virtual visits and why a virtual visit solution that's integrated with your EHR and PM is critical to maintain workflow continuity.

COVID-19 Federal Policy Workgroup CONCLUDES Meeting - Report Forthcoming

July 09, 2020

In late April, eHI launched a special workgroup to help craft a report with a set of recommendations to fully leverage health IT and digital health to fight COVID-19 and future public health challenges.

Over the past two months, eHI members have dialed in to hear presentations from guest speakers and discuss critical issue areas including: telehealth and remote patient monitoring; artificial intelligence and machine learning; access to broadband; health information exchange; and public health surveillance.

While eHI staff is busy drafting a report made up of the consensus recommendations from our eHI member participants, you can find short summaries and recordings of every meeting below and keep an eye on your inbox for updates on the release of our workgroup report. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out to Catherine Pugh.


Telehealth and Remote Patient Monitoring

On April 27th, eHI Assistant Vice President of Policy Catherine Pugh provided an overview of the temporary federal telehealth policy changes that were enacted at the beginning of the COVID-19 public health emergency and discussed recommendations for making some of these changes permanent. Robert Jarrin with the Omega Concern presented on how remote patient monitoring (RPM) tools were being used during COVID-19 and Medicare reimbursement policy related to RPM.

Find a recording of the workgroup meeting here.

Artificial Intelligence & Machine Learning

On May 11th, Eileen Koski from IBM T.J. Watson Research Center joined the workgroup to present on how IBM was using artificial intelligence (AI) to support COVID-19 data modeling and insights through their Deep Search service, drug candidate exploration, and Functional Genetics Platform tools. The workgroup then discussed how federal policy can support and strengthen these tools to fight disease.


Find a recording of the workgroup meeting here.

Broadband Access

On May 26th, Brad Wolters, Director of Federal Government Relations with eHI member Marshfield Clinic presented to the workgroup on the challenges their health system – with locations in rural Wisconsin – have faced in using technology to continue to deliver care to patients during stay-at-home periods and when facilities were closed for non-essential services. Because of a lack of high-speed broadband in many areas they service, the use of audio-only telehealth was crucial for Marshfield.

Find a recording of the workgroup meeting here.

Health Information Exchange

On June 8th, Jaime Bland, CEO of eHI member Nebraska Health Information Initiative (NEHII) discussed how they’ve helped support the response to COVID-19 in their state by supporting lab results reporting and hospital status/availability. The workgroup then discussed policy issues such as increasing HIE funding and better coordination between federal agencies with jurisdiction over lab reporting requirements.

Find a recording of the workgroup meeting here.

Public Health Surveillance

Finally, on June 22nd, Dr. Scott McNabb from Emory University presented to the workgroup on modernizing our country’s public health surveillance system. The workgroup discussed steps that could be taken to move from the current disease-specific and siloed system to an integrated surveillance system.

Find a recording of the workgroup meeting here.


Manatt and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Release Considerations for Developing a Consumer Health Data Privacy Framework

July 01, 2020

Frequent eHI collaborator Manatt Phelps & Phillips released yesterday a white paper titled A Shared Responsibility: Protecting Consumer Health Data Privacy in an Increasingly Connected World. Developed by Manatt Health, the firm’s healthcare legal and consulting group, with the support of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), the paper examines the gaps in existing health data privacy protections, the implications these gaps may have for consumers and healthcare industry stakeholders, and options for advancing a forward-looking data privacy framework.

The eHealth Initiative Foundation (eHI) and the Center for Democracy & Technology (CDT) are currently collaborating on a separate but related project, Building a Consumer Privacy Framework for Health Data  that builds on the Manatt work and is also supported by RWJF.  Guided by a Steering Committee made up of experts and leaders from healthcare, technology, and consumer advocacy groups, the project’s goal is to address and shore up protections for the increasingly vast amount of health data that falls outside the scope of HIPAA.  

The Steering Committee will incorporate insights and analyses from the Manatt white paper in its work to identify preferred pathways and actionable steps to create additional consumer health privacy protections. This work includes the development of a standard set of data protections that companies would adopt in order to show their commitment to acting responsibly with respect to their users’ data, as well as a proposed structure for this new privacy framework.


eHI Comments on Civil Money Penalties for Information Blocking

June 26, 2020

On June 23rd, eHI submitted a comment letter in response to the Department of Health & Human Service Office of the Inspector General (OIG) proposed rule entitled Fraud and Abuse; Information Blocking; Office of Inspector General's Civil Money Penalty Rules. The proposed rule is the first step toward the OIG’s implementation of civil money penalties for information blocking as required under the 21st Century Cures Act.



Readout / Summary: Substance Workgroup Meetings

April 29, 2020

The goal of this workgroup is to develop the content of a framework for unregulated health information. The April meetings focused on specific protections that should apply to covered data. Our upcoming meetings on May 18 and 20 will focus on exceptions to those protections. During the April meetings, the workgroup discussed on how baseline collection, use, and sharing limits of consumer health data should be addressed under the framework. There was also discussion regarding the definition developed during the March meetings. 

Data Analytics Workgroup: SDOH for Research and Treatment of Cardiology Patients

Dr. Michael Berlowitz, Chief of Cardiovascular Operations at the University of South Florida and Jacqueline Tomei, Quality Programs Manager, American Heart Association discuss the use of virtual care, SDOH, and data analytics to deliver care for patients with cardiovascular disease, and the rapid changes made to respond to COVID-19.