How COVID-19 May Ensure Telehealthcare Is Here to Stay

A doctor is discussing a patient's medication over the computer telehealthcare

For the last decade, telehealthcare has increasingly grown popular amongst patients. With the onset of COVID-19, virtual healthcare has exploded as one of our primary sources for care. According to Teladoc, their number of providers shot up 100% with an average of 20,000 virtual patients a day from March to April 2020. They’re not alone, the American Medical Association (AMA) reports a similar impact in healthcare facilities in Indianapolis, Boston, and New York City. The question on everyone’s mind is will this method of care remain relevant after the pandemic. If so, what regulations will the government put in place?

As a healthcare provider, staying on top of regulations that are making their way through legislation can be a strenuous task. With Agenda Discovery’s legislative tracking tool you can easily get information with just a push of a button.

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What Is Telehealthcare?

The Health Resources Services Administration defines telehealthcare as the use of electronic information and telecommunications to support long-distance clinical healthcare and patient-professional health education. By utilizing technologies such as videoconferencing and smartphones to engage with patients regarding their health needs, healthcare professionals can provide treatment for a range of conditions. This includes common illnesses like colds and sore throats, to more comprehensive issues like therapy and skin conditions. 

COVID-19’s Impact on Telehealthcare

As we’re all aware, COVID-19 is spread between people through direct, indirect, or close contact. It is recommended that we social distance ourselves by limiting our time away from home and staying six feet apart from other people. As a result, healthcare providers are integrating virtual health services into their practices.

In response to the pandemic, the federal government enacted bills that provide funding for healthcare providers to integrate telehealth services into their operations. In July, U.S. Reps. Abigail Spanberger (D-VA) and Dusty Johnson (R-SD) introduced a bill that would give the Federal Communications Commission’s COVID-19 Telehealth Program $200 million to support telehealth programs addressing the health pandemic. 

The Taskforce for Telehealth Policy, a lobbying effort orchestrated by the ATA, Alliance for Connected Care, and NCQA, held a meeting with telehealth policymakers to support the Protecting Access to Post-COVID-19 Act. This proposal aims to make a wide range of telehealth coverage permanent and further access measures to deal with COVID-19.

The Future of Telehealthcare

While the duration of the pandemic remains uncertain, it’s safe to say telehealth will be a new method of care for many patients. Lawmakers are beginning to legitimize the delivery method by considering several bills that provide coverage once the crisis has ended. 

In a press release for the COVID-19 Emergency Telehealth Impact Reporting Act of 2020, U.S. Rep. John Curtis (R-UT) explained, “Telehealth is undoubtedly the future of health care, especially for the rural communities that I am privileged to represent. Ultimately, Congress’ objective should be to make many – if not at all – of these regulatory changes permanent. Our bill is a significant step in that direction because it will ensure we are keeping patients’ health and reducing the costs of care through value-based medicine as our top priorities as we consider expanding telehealth services throughout the country.”

Stay on Top of Telehealthcare Regulations

As the demand for telehealth continues to grow, so will its regulations. As a healthcare professional, it is vital that you stay current with trends and policies that are being discussed by legislators. By using Agenda Discovery’s legislative tracking tool, your practice can receive information on policies impacting the healthcare industry. Request a demo today to see what our tool can do for you.

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