Cable Ready with Solutions that Support Telehealth Requirements

In an effort to provide consistent and clear practices in the use of technological advancements in the healthcare industry, telehealth has gained much needed momentum. Defined as “the practice of bringing healthcare providers and patients together virtually,” telehealth seeks to remedy the complexity of state laws regarding the storage and sharing of medical information that currently makes life difficult for patients and healthcare providers alike.

The issue has gained national attention thanks to the establishment of the Telehealth Modernization Act introduced by Congressman Bill Johnson (R-Ohio) and Doris Matsui (D-Calif.). Some of the primary issues outlined are:

Improving the archaic data-storage systems of hospitals Setting national standards and practices regarding digitization and sharing of medical records Providing guidance for individual states looking to modernize while respecting the current rules in place regarding the practice of medicine Use of technology to uphold a patient’s continuity of care and an overall betterment of patient/provider relationships moving forward

“With technology rapidly changing and reaching every aspect of our daily lives, we must ensure the regulatory environment keeps pace,” said Congresswoman Matsui. “The bill will spur innovation and research in the delivery of healthcare, while improving patient care and increasing efficiency.”

The rubber-meets-the-road intent of the legislation is evident through the recommendation that healthcare providers conducting telehealth consults should have access to all relevant health information—just as he or she would during an in-person visit—and follow standard procedures for documenting findings electronically or otherwise and informing patients of underlying conditions and diagnoses resulting from the visit. This is an impressive step forward for the industry, although reimbursement policies still need clarification, making prior approvals of telehealth services extremely important until a time when insurance companies and Medicaid produce a clearer rulebook to follow.

The call for information sharing is where cable companies will showcase their unique set of capabilities, making connectivity possible from large hospitals to rural clinics—a huge priority for healthcare IT departments as reported by the recent CTAM-sponsored HIMSS study. As the healthcare industry prioritizes innovation on a national level, cable will provide the technological infrastructure necessary to make it a reality. Good for the healthcare industry. Great for patients.

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