In the coming days the Senate will be voting on S.2873, or more commonly known as the ECHO (“Expanding Capacity for Health Outcomes”) Act sponsored by Sen. Orrin Hatch [R-UT] and Sen. Brian Schatz [D-HI]. If passed, this bill would require HHS (Health and Human Services) and HRSA (Health Resources and Services Administration) to study technology-enabled collaborative learning and capacity building models. In other words, they have to study the uses and capabilities of Telehealth technologies and determine its ability to improve patient care and provider education.
Why is this important? Because those of us that already use some form of Telehealth know that it’s an incredible tool! We just need to make its benefits known and official. Passing this bill would require real studies and real reports of how effective and efficient Telehealth is. Also, because it must be conducted by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, you can expect the results of this study to make positive changes in how you receive reimbursements.
You may be skeptical about the reimbursement climate given the recent election, but the promotion of Telehealth is something both sides of the table agree on. Democrats and Republicans in the Senate and House are working together to push forward this bill because they recognize that it is budget sensitive and comes with immediate improvements, especially to those with limited access to care.
If you’re new to the concept of Telehealth being an absolute necessity, consider the challenges of a rural area. The nearest hospital may be an hour’s drive away and the patient might not even have a car. Or what if the patient needs to see a specialist who’s not even in the same state? Patients in rural areas need better access to their healthcare providers, but hospitals in those rural areas need help too. That’s why this bill also has sections dedicated to increasing payments and Medicare reimbursements to hospitals specifically in rural and small urban areas. To view more details and check updates on this bill, visit congress.gov
The bipartisan teamwork of the Senate drafted this bill to encourage the use of Telehealth by all. By promoting Telehealth, they are promoting greater coverage, greater care, affordability and utility. Get setup with your own virtual practice here.