Without question, there have been massive changes to healthcare delivery models over the last few years. Technology made it possible to navigate the treacherous path of continuing to provide care to patients despite a global pandemic. Telehealth played a huge role in that factor. As we move away from the pandemic, Congress is prepared to make changes to ensure telehealth and virtual care models stick around as part of health IT policy.
While a major aspect of the agenda with health IT policy in 2023 is making telehealth more permanent, other items are on the agenda as well. A recent publication by Healthcare IT News covered a few healthcare policy changes and legislations to expect in the new year. Take a closer look at what providers should expect below.
Ensuring Telehealth Plays a Continued Role in Cost Control
In 2023, the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) will be placing more focus on gathering data related to using telehealthcare models. There is specific interest in showing how telehealth helps providers and payers with cost control. Some studies have shown that telehealth creates around a $361 cost savings per patient compared to services like in-home care. A small-scale study of a dermatology practice in 2007 revealed that hourly operational costs were reduced from $456 per hour to $361 per hour by offering teledermatology.
During the pandemic, waivers were provided by Medicare, so telehealth visits could actually be covered. These remote care opportunities proved to be important to population health at a time when in-office visits had to be limited. Even though some commercial insurance companies had already embraced telehealth prior to the pandemic, state and federal payers were slow to do the same. Congress elected to provide a two-year extension for these waivers until a more permanent solution is established.
Heightened Efforts to Achieve Seamless Patient Records
EHR software made it possible for multiple providers to access the same health records for a patient despite geographic location. This improves the care a patient can receive because every doctor essentially has access to the same information. For example, a patient from California admitted to a hospital for emergency treatment in Florida would have a doctor that had access to their latest health records.
While seamless patient records between different providers have always been the goal, there are impediments. For example, Substance Abuse Confidentiality Regulations limit how mental health records are shared and with what providers. There have been situations when the lack of access to mental health records negates a provider’s ability to make sound medical decisions about care. The HIMSS and the U.S. Health and Human Services are planning to work together to change the in-place rules for the betterment of population health.
Broadband Adoption Across the Board
With more practitioners implementing telehealth software, high-speed internet availability becomes even more important in terms of population health. The Infrastructure Improvement Act was set in motion a few years ago. At that time, around 30 million American citizens live in areas where access to high-speed internet was not available.
For the year to come, there are plans to focus on making sure all patients have access to high-speed broadband internet. Otherwise, access to telehealth care may be a moot point for certain communities. The goal of the upcoming health IT policy agenda is to find a way to use access to healthcare as a driving point to help communities that lack broadband infrastructure get the necessary funding.
“Interoperability 3.0” Standards to Enhance Data Exchange Synergy
With more healthcare information now in the form of electronic data, there are opportunities to improve things like prior authorizations and interoperability between different entities. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has already proposed rules to help with streamlining data exchanges electronically. However, many providers have found these new rules to create a substantial administrative burden. The HIMSS is looking to see new standards and rules in place that create a synergy between what the CMS set out to do and how those rules can actually work.
Is Your Practice Technologically Prepared for the Year Ahead?
As technology grows more advanced, the changes in healthcare are bound to be highly beneficial for providers and patients. Technology and software can help with everything from compliance & legal rule-following to giving better care to every patient. As new standards with health IT policy come to fruition, make sure your practice or organization is well-prepared with the most up-to-date technology.
At PrognoCIS, we offer a collection of solutions to help medical providers with day-to-day operations, including advanced EHR software, Telehealth software, and more. Reach out to schedule a live demo of our products or find out more about what we have to offer.