On August 28 HIMSS and PCHAlliance submitted a joint comment letter to the Federal Communications Commission (Commission) in response to its formal Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) on Promoting Telehealth for Low-Income Consumers. The Commission is proposing a pilot program in the Universal Service Fund to support connected care for low-income Americans and veterans.
The Commission is seeking to use this pilot as a vehicle to better understand how the fund can play a role in helping patients stay directly connected to healthcare providers through telehealth services and improve health outcomes among medically underserved populations that do not have access to these vital technologies.
HIMSS and PCHAlliance offered comments and recommendations in support of the Commission’s work to improve access to high-quality healthcare for those underserved populations through improved infrastructure. The letter stressed the increasingly critical role that technology and telehealth play in healthcare delivery, while re-emphasizing how it is more important than ever to design and implement well-designed telehealth programs—a fact that only becomes more apparent as our healthcare system continues to rely on 21st century information communications technologies.
As detailed in the comment letter, the reality is that fundamental broadband availability and access are indeed a barrier, and our entire community must push for this issue to be more of a focal point in the ongoing connected health dialogue. Moreover, both HIMSS and PCHAlliance reiterated their commitment to continuing to support the Commission in the development of its work on broader telehealth issues.
HIMSS and PCHAlliance identified and recommended several components that would be essential to any future pilot proposals in order for the delivery of successful telehealth services:
- Plans for long-term sustainability
- Commitments from community partners, including: physicians, hospitals, health systems and home health/community providers
- Documented commitment from all health care payer(s) and/or insurers who cover the population likely to receive telehealth services of their willingness to reimburse for telehealth services as well as the proposed clinician time and clinical care delivered as a telehealth service
- Evidence base or evidence support for the telehealth services to be provided
HIMSS Government Relations
The HIMSS policy team works closely with the U.S. Congress, federal decision makers, state legislatures and governments, and other organizations to recommend policy, and legislative and regulatory solutions to improve health through information and technology.