Today, the Taskforce on Telehealth Policy (TTP) released its much-anticipated final report, identifying challenges and opportunities for telehealth in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The taskforce spent the summer building consensus among its members on a comprehensive set of findings and recommendations to incorporate telehealth into our health care ecosystem going forward.
Key Taskforce Findings and Recommendations
Here are a few summary points:
- Telehealth is the natural evolution of healthcare into the digital age. It is essentially a setting or modality of care, rather than a type of care. As such, it should be held to the same standards and quality measures as in-person care wherever possible and appropriate.
- Early data suggests that telehealth has substituted for a good deal of in-person care during the pandemic without increasing overall costs. Studies show that It can also relieve travel burdens, risks, and care delays, improve behavioral care access, and reduce missed appointments, costly transfers to hospitals and emergency departments and hospital readmissions.
- Policymakers must expand efforts to ensure access to broadband and technology infrastructure to promote equity and not exacerbate care disparities as healthcare moves into the digital age.
- Policymakers should maintain the following specific COVID-19 policy changes:
- Lifting geographic restrictions and limitations on originating sites.
- Allowing telehealth for various types of clinicians and conditions.
- Acknowledging that telehealth visits generally can meet requirements for establishing a clinician/patient relationship.
- Lifting restrictions on telehealth across state lines.
- Full enforcement of the privacy provisions of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) should resume when the current public health emergency ends.
- The ongoing move from fee-for-service to value-based arrangements in healthcare should enhance the ability of patients, payers and providers to leverage telehealth’s potential.
These are just the bullets. We encourage you to read the full report. In addition, you’ll find everything you need to know about the Taskforce, its members and the 23 organizations they represent from across the health care spectrum. As a final note, NCQA wants to express its gratitude-as a convening organization-to each of them for their contribution to this work and report.
Matt Brock is the Director of Communications at NCQA. After more than two decades working in broadcast journalism, Matt now leads NCQA’s efforts to develop unique content that engages and informs consumers as well as providers, plans and policymakers via this blog, our website, NCQA.org and numerous social media platforms. Matt’s goal is to educate consumers and to direct them to the best resources when considering quality in their health care decisions.