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Draft Telemedicine Accreditation Standards Are Ready for Review

In a partnership with the American Telemedicine Association, ClearHealth Quality Institute has unveiled a draft set of standards for a new telemedicine accreditation program.

Source: ThinkStock

By Eric Wicklund

- A partnership launched by the American Telemedicine Association has unveiled a draft set of standards for a new telemedicine accreditation program.

ClearHealth Quality Institute’s Telemedicine Accreditation Program Standards was unveiled last week and will be open to public comment through February 9. Officially called version 2.0, the standards were renamed from the ATA’s Accreditation Program for Online Consultations when the two groups formed a partnership in May 2017.

“The CHQI Telemedicine Standards Committee has incorporated the most prevalent use cases to ensure that the standards cover all key clinical services and delivery models for telemedicine,” Bill Lewis, MD, MBA, co-chair of the CHQI Telemedicine Standards Committee, said in a recent press release. “Combining ATA’s 25 years of expertise in telemedicine with CHQI’s accreditation leadership is a perfect match to optimize the next version of the Telemedicine Standards.”

Officials say the standards, once finalized, “will offer high-fidelity and targeted standards covering key elements of the emerging telemedicine industry.” They’ll target, among other things, telemedicine transparency, regulation and patient outcomes and safety.

The standards will also be part of the CHQI’s new Telemedicine Accreditation Program, which the institute plans to unveil in March.

Lewis, who is GlobalMed’s Chief Medical officer and a principal at Well Medcare, and Alexis Gilroy, a partner with the Jones Day law firm, are co-chairs of the 14-person telemedicine standards committee. The committee includes executives from, among other, Zipnosis, Specialists On Call, Avera Health, the Mercy Health Network and Regence BlueCross BlueShield of Utah.

They aren’t the only ones looking for a handle on telemedicine standards.

Last September, the Joint Commission scrapped proposed telehealth amendments to its accreditation standards following negative public comment. The proposed changes would have forced health systems to obtain patient consent and predict a patient’s financial responsibility prior to rendering any telehealth or telemedicine services.

Perhaps with that in mind, the CHQI committee made it a point to emphasize the need for public comment on its draft standards.

“The importance of receiving feedback from a wide array of stakeholders cannot be understated,” Gilroy said in the press release. “It is critical to ensure that the accreditation standards reflect both best practices and thought leadership within the telemedicine industry.”

Prior to partnering with CHQI, the ATA had been developing telemedicine standards since 2015, with the goal of giving providers a model to follow and payers the reassurance they need to reimburse for such services.

“ATA’s Accreditation Program is designed to ensure transparency and patient safety as online services for healthcare proliferate,” Jonathan Linkous, then the ATA’s CEO, said at the time. “We’ve seen an explosion of online healthcare service offerings in recent years, and a growing need to assure consumers they are making good choices. ATA’s Accreditation Program for Online Patient Consultations will provide benchmarks for organizations building an online practice.”

“In an age where the average consumer manages nearly all aspects of life online, it’s a no-brainer that healthcare should be just as convenient, accessible and safe as online banking,” he added. “This program ensures that online healthcare services are following the necessary standards, guidelines and laws to provide safe care to American consumers.”

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