Respond to at least two of your colleagues* by either supporting or respectfully challenging their explanation on whether there is an evidence base to support the proposed health policy they described.
The demand for healthcare and the shortage of providers to offer this care, especially in geographically and economically challenged populations, has put a strain on healthcare availability. The Creating Opportunities Now for Necessary and Effective Care Technologies for Health (CONNECT) Act of 2019 looks to promote access through increased use of telehealth.
What It Means
Currently, telehealth is limited by geography, billing and reimbursement, and provider restrictions. The CONNECT bill HR 4932, proposes removal of some or all of these stipulations to expand access to care. Specifically, the bill targets Medicare restrictions and lack of coverage to improve access to the elderly and disabled (Wicklund, 2019).
The evidence to support telehealth expansion has been proven. As discussed by Totten et al., (2016) numerous studies have shown an increase in positive outcomes regarding patient/provider communication, education, and the management of chronic health conditions. Passing of this bill could provide a multitude of benefits to involved parties.
First and foremost, it would improve access to care for those limited by age, disability, geography, or finances. Improved access to care promotes health prevention and decreases more costly care due to complications associated with delay of treatment. The expansion of telehealth could also reduce the strain placed on providers by the shortage. The bill looks to permit telehealth use by more providers and remove some of the travel and point of origin restrictions. Greater use of telehealth would also encourage better insurance coverage and reimbursement (H.R. 4932, 2019).
With all the changes in healthcare and the concerns over cost and accessibility, the need for legislation to address these issues cannot be ignored. The promotion of telehealth and removal of current restrictions could solve many of these dilemmas. As healthcare providers, we can continue to conduct the research and provide the evidence needed to advocate for legislative change to improve healthcare.