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CHQI Unveils Its First Class of Accredited Telehealth Providers

Five organizations, including two health systems, have been certified by the ClearHealth Quality Institute, one of two groups offering standards-based accreditation for connected care programs.

Source: ThinkStock

By Eric Wicklund

- One of two organizations providing telehealth accreditation has unveiled its first graduating class.

Five telehealth providers – including two health systems – have been accredited under guidelines developed by the ClearHealth Quality Institute (CHQI), which partnered with the American Telemedicine Association in 2017 and launched its accreditation program earlier this year.

“The first wave of organizations accredited by the CHQI Telemedicine Accreditation Program represent a new standard of quality in the delivery of telemedicine in our country,” CHQI Accreditation Committee Chair Bill Lewis, MD, said in a press release. “By completing the CHQI Telemedicine Accreditation Program’s application and demonstration process, these companies took part in a substantive assessment process and received meaningful, constructive feedback to improve operations. Each CHQI accredited organization has taken the important steps necessary to promote access to safe, quality and competent healthcare.”

The first group consists of UC San Diego Health; the Texas-based CHRISTUS Good Shepherd Health System; Boston-based Amwell (a business line of American Well); California-based InTouch Health and New York-based AliCare Medical Management.

More than a dozen organizations – including Arizona’s Bayless Integrated Healthcare and three telehealth vendors, SOC Telemed, MDLive and Doctor On Demand – are working toward accreditation, according to CHQI officials.

Also offering accreditation is the Washington DC-based non-profit Utilization Review Accreditation Commission (URAC), which bills its program, initially developed in 2015, as “the first independent, third-party national program to offer comprehensive oversight of diverse telehealth programs.”

A third organization, the Joint Commission, had proposed establishing telemedicine standards in 2017. The proposal was unveiled in May “to account for direct-to-patient telehealth services,” but was dropped in September after critics said the new standards would be more restrictive than any other state or federal telemedicine guidelines.

CHQI is offering accreditation in three modules: consumer-to-provider (such as physician or nurse triage services); provider-to-consumer (such as an ongoing provider/patient relationship including mental health counseling; and provider-to-provider (such as specialty consults including tele-radiology). The organization is now working on modules for remote patient monitoring (RPM) and telemedicine outcomes.

“The CHQI Telemedicine Standards Committee and supporting workgroups are committed to regularly fine-tuning and updating the existing Telemedicine Accreditation Program Standards as healthcare technology, regulations, and measurement tools evolve,” Alexis Gilroy, a partner with the Jones Day law firm and CHQI Telemedicine Standards Committee Chair, said in the release. 

RPM accreditation is of particular interest, coming at a time when the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services is starting to offer reimbursement and a large number of healthcare providers have launched or are considering RPM programs.

“The importance of RPM interventions has expanded dramatically in recent years,” Rene Quashie, JD, a member of CHQI's Telemedicine Standards Committee and newly appointed Vice President of Policy & Regulatory Affairs in Digital Health for the Consumer Technology Association (CTA), said in a separate press release. “Digital health solutions, including telemedicine and RPM, represent important ways to improve clinical outcomes and value.  Developing accreditation standards in these areas is a critical step in protecting patients.”

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