Telehealth: Key To Delivery Of Ample Care For ACA Patients?

telehealthLast week C-SPAN broadcast a set of sessions entitled “Health Policy Experts on the Telehealth Service Industry”.  The state of telehealth was looked at from regulatory, private, and partnership persepctives. Invaluable stuff.


Telemedicine vs Telehealth

Ever wonder what the difference is between telehealth and telemedicine? According to the American Telemedicine Association:


Formally defined, telemedicine is the use of medical information exchanged from one site to another via electronic communications to improve a patient’92s clinical health status. Telemedicine includes a growing variety of applications and services using two-way video, email, smart phones, wireless tools and other forms of telecommunications technology.


While the term telehealth is sometimes used to refer to a broader definition of remote healthcare that does not always involve clinical services, ATA uses the terms in the same way one would refer to medicine or health in the common vernacular.


So one industry player at least says telehealth is used in the broader sense to include non clinical applications.  Yet I’ve heard these terms used interchangeably often.  I am comfortable with using telehealth going forward in the more all-encompassing sense.



Now, back to that CSPAN presentation…



“Health Policy Experts on the Telehealth Service Industry” expert panel includes:

  • Moderator, Edward Howard, Executive Vice President for the Alliance For Healthcare Reform.

  • Neal Neuberger,  Executive Director of e-Healthcare Policy, Health Information Management Systems Society (HIMSS)

  • Sherilyn Pruitt, Director of the Federal Office for the Advancement of Telehealth.

  • John Jesser, Vice President of Healthcare Management at WellPoint. 

  • Dr. Karen Rheuben, Director, University of Virginia Center For Telehealth

Focus Of The Panel


The panel was convened to discuss who uses telehealth, why they use it and how to improve access to this important tool. A common theme throughout was the idea that increased use of telehealth could very well be the missing link to successful universal healthcare delivery to the previously uninsured under the Affordable Care Act (ACA).  The many uses of telehelth are revealed throughout the presentation.  The speakers also discussed several ways to fund and improve reimbursement for telehealth services.



Here are some selected clips that I found interesting from the hour and forty-five minute discussion.  The full program can be found here.





The moderator, Alliance For Healthcare Reform’s Executive Vice President, Edward Howard begins with an overview of the telehealth industry.  He discusses the various uses for telehealth including remote patient monitoring, the ability to consult with national and international specialists during a consultation or procedure, robotic surgery and the increased need for telehealth in the roll-out of the Affordable Care Act(ACA).



Neal Neuberger, HIMSS


At a little over 6 minutes into the discussion, Neal Neuberger, Executive Director, Institute for e-health Policy, Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) is introduced. Mr. Neuberger provides an overview of his professional experience since 1993 in the telehealth industry.  He discusses how policy and implementation has matured and the many twists and turns along the way.  Neal shares a surprise –  that telehealth is now being used more in the urban setting than in the rural areas. He also discusses a variety of telehealth adoption methods, plus how TH will affect population health and its role in successful post-ACA care.  He also shares his concerns about how reimbursement and funding for telehealth services will possibilty hamper telehealth’s necessary increased usage.



Sherilyn Pruitt, OAT/HHS


At approximately 16 minutes into the discussion, Sherilyn Pruitt, Director of the Office For Advancement of Telehealth (OAT) of the Department of Health and Human Services (DHS) discusses awards available for program support for the advancement of telehealth (aka telehealth). Miss Pruitt discusses the four grants that availalble from the OAT.


More on this discussion on telehealth in the coming days.



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