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AHA Gives Telehealth Its Own Web Page

The site is the organization's latest effort to garner support for policies, platforms and reimbursement of something that's 'increasingly vital' to the nation's healthcare system.

- The American Hospital Association has launched an online resource on local, state and national telehealth programs.

From emergency department care to remote patient monitoring for chronic care management and access to care from specialists, telehealth is changing the way healthcare is provided – both expanding patient access to routine and specialty care while improving patient satisfaction and outcomes.” The national organization writes in its introduction. “The AHA supports the expansion of patient access created by hospitals’ efforts to deliver high-quality and innovative telehealth services.”

The site is broken into four sections and features links to state and regional telehealth networks, federal and state legislative and regulatory initiatives, case studies and presentations, external research, press coverage and AHA resources.

The AHA has long been an advocate for telehealth, calling it “increasingly vital” to the nation’s healthcare delivery system in a January 2015 two-part report and letter urging Congress to reduce Medicare’s financial and technical barriers to remote care.

At that time, the organization said telehealth “has moved into the mainstream,” with some 52 percent of U.S. hospitals using the technology platform in 2013 and another 10 percent moving into the arena. The AHA also cited studies that indicated 74 percent of consumers would use telehealth services, 70 percent of patients are comfortable using mHealth to communicate with their healthcare providers, and 30 percent of consumers already use mobile devices to check for medical and diagnostic information.

“Telehealth has many guises, from remote monitoring programs used by hospitals for post-discharge monitoring to reduce readmissions, to hospital emergency departments using remote video consultations to enable patients to receive telepsychiatric screening,” the AHA said in its report. “Increased use of telehealth reflects a changing healthcare landscape with a move toward integrated delivery and new payment models. Also spurred by consumer demand, telehealth is viewed increasingly as an efficient and cost-effective care delivery vehicle.”

Earlier this year, the AHA urged the Senate Finance Committee to make telehealth a standard of care for people with chronic conditions, rather than a separate path of care, and urged lawmakers to be consistent in revising current outdated policies, rather than creating newer, more complicated ones that don’t create a clear path to reimbursement. It also called for more research on the benefits of the technology.

“Although evidence on the quality and access benefits of telehealth continues to grow, there are insufficient studies on the cost-benefits of telehealth outside of certain services, such as telestroke,” the organization stated. “More and better research is needed for other conditions and newer technologies, such as remote monitoring of patients.”

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