WHA Members Discuss Strategies for Maximizing Telehealth Opportunities

Telemedicine Work Group meeting focused on removing barriers to expand patient access

April 27, 2018

The WHA Telemedicine Work Group met April 25 to provide input as WHA continues to refine its telehealth agenda, which is broadly aimed at facilitating sustainable reimbursement for telehealth services, supporting a regulatory infrastructure conducive to the use of telehealth, and providing education to WHA members on innovative telehealth strategies to improve patient access to high-value health care.

Andrew Brenton, WHA assistant general counsel, led the Work Group through a discussion of Wisconsin and federal laws regulating telehealth and governing the reimbursement of telehealth services. Work Group members noted that regulatory barriers exist within Medicare and Medicaid that prevent hospitals and health systems from maximizing the use of telehealth.

For example, Work Group members noted Medicare does not pay for delivery of telehealth services to patients located in urban areas, and neither Medicare nor Medicaid pay for telehealth services provided to the patient’s home. Members explained that enabling payment for telehealth to the home can increase the likelihood of care plan adherence; avoid more expensive emergency department visits and hospitalizations; and remove transportation burdens, especially for patients with chronic care management needs.

The Work Group also discussed telehealth educational programs that would be valuable for WHA to offer to its members in 2018. “Our goal at WHA is to provide educational content on innovative telehealth strategies that advance WHA members’ ability to maximize opportunities for utilizing telehealth to provide more accessible, cost-effective care,” said Brenton.

Among the uses of telehealth that Work Group members are interested in exploring in more detail through WHA-provided education is the use of telehealth in long-term care facilities to reduce transfers to the emergency room or inpatient settings.

WHA’s Telemedicine Work Group will continue to meet throughout 2018.

For more information, contact Andrew Brenton, WHA assistant general counsel, at abrenton@wha.org or 608-274-1820.

This story originally appeared in the April 27, 2018 edition of WHA Newsletter