Home Featured Telemedicine News Roundup: New Legislation, the Opioid Crisis, and Grant Funding

Telemedicine News Roundup: New Legislation, the Opioid Crisis, and Grant Funding

by Margaret Brown

Future Healthcare Today’s News Roundups curate the latest news and trends in the health IT industry. In this week’s Roundup, we focus on telemedicine trends, what is driving telehealth adoption and how it is redefining risk for insurers. We also learn about potential legislation that would use telemedicine to help stem the opioid crisis in America and share links to two federal grants that could help fund telemedicine in this latest health IT roundup:

How Telemedicine is Redefining Healthcare Risk

As many as 158 million Americans will access telemedicine by 2020. Its acceptance is influenced by factors such as a shortage of doctors in certain areas; the inability of older or infirm patients to get to the doctor quickly; and the providers’ desire to be more efficient in providing patient care. The ability of a patient to “visit” a doctor via videoconferencing has several benefits. It also has risks, such as misdiagnosis. “What if the internet connection was weak or the image quality wasn’t high enough, which resulted in the doctor missing an area of shading that could suggest cancer?” A misdiagnosis could result in a professional liability claim against the provider. Read the story here.

Four Major Telemedicine Trends in 2018

Telemedicine continues to move into the mainstream of healthcare. In fact, a national review of 145 telemedicine studies conducted by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality concluded that it likely improves access to care and has clinical benefits in acute and chronic care. As telemedicine uses goes beyond the four walls of a hospital, delivery is becoming less reliant on payer-based models, and government bodies and policymakers are increasingly stepping up to bat when it comes to telemedicine-friendly regulation and government-funded programs. The Department of Veterans Affairs is currently using these video-to-home services to treat a variety of mental health conditions including addiction and obsessive-compulsive disorder. Read the story here.

Senators Target Medicaid in Telehealth Bills Tackling Opioid Abuse

At least three pieces of legislation are making their way through Congress and four more have been introduced to make telehealth and telemedicine services a pivotal strategy in tackling the nation’s opioid abuse crisis. The national epidemic of substance abuse and opioid dependency  is killing an estimated 115 people a day, and telehealth advocates say treatment plans facilitated by telemedicine and mHealth tools could reach more people and improve adherence rates and outcomes. One of the bills recently introduced is the Expanding Telehealth Response to Ensure Addiction Treatment (eTREAT) Act, which would, if passed, remove originating site requirements and facility fees from telehealth programs addressing opioid abuse and other substance abuse disorders. Read the story here.

Two Major Telehealth and Telemedicine Grants Due in June

One of the most significant reasons that telehealth and telemedicine programs aren’t more numerous in the United States is the cost associated with acquiring the equipment – especially video endpoints – that are needed to get started. However, in recent years several federal government agencies have funded grant programs to help defray these costs and help establish programs in communities where they are needed most. In fact, there are three major telehealth and telemedicine grants from federal agencies with deadlines coming up soon. They include the Evidence-Based Tele-Behavioral Health Network Program grant and the Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health Grant Program. Read the story here.

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