Telehealth existed well before COVID-19, but the pandemic pushed more health care providers to use the technology, insurance companies to cover it and regulators to waive restrictions. Telehealth will remain after the pandemic ends, but heavy outreach and innovative options may be needed to ensure veterans, the homeless, individual minority populations and others with internet connectivity challenges also reap the benefits, experts say.
A group of health care professionals has developed an app called Community Pass that people can use to self-screen for signs of COVID-19, check in to locations to aid contact tracing, and store COVID-19 test results and vaccine records. The app is part of the My Community Health initiative to connect health data across multiple platforms.
The HHS Office of Inspector General found a close to 20% increase in the number of Medicare hospitalization claims billed at the highest severity level from fiscal year 2014 to FY 2019, while the average length of stay at high severity levels declined. The OIG also found the number of stays billed at lower severity levels declined and the average length of stay remained stable, and suggested that the CMS be on the lookout for upcoding.
A Medicaid recovery audit contractor recently penalized a Georgia physicians' office for failing to meet EHR meaningful use Objective 8, which requires ensuring patients can view online, download and transmit their health information within four business days of the information's availability. The practice's EHR system allows for the required patient access, but more than half the practice's patients have refused to provide an email address or do not have one, and the penalty is being appealed.
UC Davis Health, Mount Sinai Health, Cleveland Clinic and Northwestern University Health are developing an EHR-connected toolkit for patients with inflammatory bowel disease. The NIH-backed project will leverage apps, telemedicine and remote patient monitoring to collect real-world data and improve clinical care.
DirectTrust's Implementation Guide for Event Notifications via the Direct Standard aims to facilitate compliance with CMS rules requiring electronic notification of admissions, discharges and transfers. The guide provides context for health care professionals using direct secure messages and might help them handle messages properly.
Kristina Saffran, who went through family-based treatment after being diagnosed with anorexia at 10 years old, worked with clinical psychologist Erin Parks to develop Equip, a telemedicine app that connects people with an eating disorder and their families with a five-member care team that includes a peer and a family mentor, a physician, a therapist and a dietician, all of whom are trained in evidence-based techniques. Experts say the platform will enable more people to get the care they need, and Saffran and Parks are trying to secure Medicaid and private insurance coverage.
Researchers from Boston Children's Hospital, Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security and other leading academic health organizations have collaborated to develop a new online data platform that offers researchers access to various data tools and over 5 million anonymized COVID-19 cases from over 100 countries that can be used for modeling, data visualization and epidemiological study of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Partly funded by Google, Global.health "brings together outbreak data from diverse communities and makes it available to all, regardless of geographic location or organizational affiliation."
The Cleveland Clinic is deploying its second mobile telehealth vehicle, which serves as a full-service pediatric office, to several school districts in northeast Ohio to help students gain health care access at their schools. Because of the pandemic, the new mobile health unit will offer additional services such as follow-up care and educational resources on topics such as hygiene and adolescent health.
Telehealth has served as a bridge to primary care during the COVID-19 pandemic, but only for patients who had access to technology and were willing to use it. As stay-at-home mandates were lifted, primary care providers were inundated with inquiries from patients asking about missed care, and one solution would be to combine population health management and quality registries with smart systems that alert patients to overdue services and help them get it, writes physician Fred Pelzman.
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