Vizient, Inc. announced it hosted a virtual congressional briefing, “Telehealth, Not Just a Pandemic Back-up Plan,” at which panelists discussed how hospitals provide telehealth services, lessons learned regarding the increased utilization of telehealth and what is needed to continue to support providers and patients beyond the pandemic.
“As the data shows, virtual health services are something that hospitals are clearly committed to investing in post-COVID,” said Saloni Jain, vice president, analytics and informatics at Vizient and moderator of the panel. “Over the past 18 months the conversation amongst providers has shifted from whether telehealth should be a service offered, to overcoming barriers in the implementation of such services across a wide range of hospitals with varying levels of technologically focused infrastructure in place.”
The discussion focused on hospital systems centered in both rural and urban communities, though the issues shared included common themes:
· Increased access to broadband - Regardless of location, access to reliable and affordable internet is pivotal to ensuring patients are able to access care in an efficient manner.
· Revised legislative and regulatory framework – As hospitals transition from the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency, there is a need to maintain several of the flexibilities that have been provided in laws, regulations and licensure requirements.
· Appropriate reimbursement and payment parity – Post-COVID, there needs to be an understanding of what services and procedures will be eligible for CMS reimbursement. For a sustainable model to be put into place, there needs to be clear and equitable reimbursement.
· Focus on increasing patient connection and trust – To have a quality, digital relationship, patients must have trust. As hospitals transition towards a more high-tech approach, they should not lose sight of high touch techniques that continue to build relationships with patients and their caregivers.