New Legislation Aims to Make Telehealth a Broad Reality

By Steven Green, MD
Chief Medical Officer, Sharp Rees-Stealy Medical Group
Secretary, Council of Accountable Physician Practices

The Council of Accountable Physician Practices (CAPP) is encouraged and excited by recent movement on Capitol Hill to expand access to telemedicine services in the Medicare program. For example, the CONNECT for Health Act, a bipartisan bill authored by Senators Brian Schatz (D-HI) and John Thune (R-SD) will create new opportunities for Medicare beneficiaries to receive high-quality, convenient care through telehealth. Like many of the medical groups in CAPP, my organization, Sharp Rees-Stealy Medical Group (SRSMG), was an early adopter of telemedicine, and we embrace its value, particularly when the technology is applied appropriately, backed by coordinated, organized systems and used to enhance existing patient and physician relationships.

Despite the barriers in regulation and legislation, Sharp-Rees Stealy has moved forward with testing and implementation of novel ways to deliver care via telehealth, including using video visits with our patients. As you can see from Felipe’s story here, the experience for both the patient and our physicians has been remarkable. As noted in this video, we see the potential of telemedicine to expand the capacity of our delivery system to serve our patients more effectively and efficiently while maintaining the high quality care they expect. Removing the barriers that exist with telemedicine will allow more patients to experience from the kind of service and quality that Felipe enjoys.

We know that we have much ground to cover if we hope to bring technologically-enabled care to everyone who needs it. Further improvements in reimbursement for telehealth services will lead to appropriate expansion of these modalities other payers so that accountable, coordinated groups like ours can deliver care to our patients when and where they need it most.

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