With the Public Health Emergency (PHE) coming to an end there are a few things providers and healthcare organizations should consider, specifically when it comes to telehealth. With many patients being exposed to the benefits of telehealth for the first time, they don’t want to give up those luxuries- but at the same time, it is necessary that providers make some changes in the way they provide care virtually to better assure patient privacy. This revision in the current virtual healthcare system is ultimately influenced by policy changes that state new regulatory standards and a change in consumer demands.
Changing Consumer Demands
Patients were exposed to the benefits of telehealth for the very first time during COVID, and don’t have any interest in only being able to receive care when a doctor is physically present, instead, they prefer a hybrid care model that ties virtual care to location care. At the same time, the need to scramble and find a solution that would allow patients to receive care virtually allowed technologies that aren’t HIPAA compliant to be authorized for emergency use. One of the many new standards that will be ushered in after the PHE comes to an end, will be that all covered healthcare providers use HIPAA compliant telehealth platforms.
Post PHE Regulatory Standards
While some of these policy changes will require providers to invest resources into evaluating innovative technology solutions, it will ultimately benefit them greatly. For example, CMS has added 54 new CPT codes to the Telehealth Services List including primary care, chronic care management, behavioral health, and mental health. Here’s the catch- to offer these services virtually, you will want access to comprehensive data that is not available via a traditional single-point EHR integration. The average person has somewhere between 19-23 different medical records, depending on their age, scattered across multiple databases.
This is where the need for a fully integrated HIPAA secure platform, powered by the recent passing of the 21st Century Cures Act, comes into play. With a fully integrated HIPAA secure platform, patients can manage and share all their medical records in a unified format from a single location, which means administrators or providers no longer have to request records via an HIE manually. With the right telemedicine platform, patients are also able to share real-time vitals via connections to home health and wearable devices.
Think about it, when you go to the doctor you fill out standard intake paperwork such as your demographic information and share any other interactions you’ve had with other providers outside of the network you’re visiting now. Then you get called back and they measure your height, weight, and other vitals. Only at this point can you then see the doctor and discuss whatever it is that you brought you into the doctor’s office that day. But with a fully integrated platform, patients can do all of what was just mentioned virtually, and doctors can still get reimbursed at the same rate as an in-person visit. The telehealth platform must be HIPAA secure, which is a standard that many telehealth solutions that were ushered in at the beginning of COVID, don’t fully meet.
Whether being compliant with new regulatory standards or to accommodate changing consumer demands, there is a lot for healthcare providers to reassess as they consider how they will choose to deliver care moving forward.