Taskforce on Telehealth Policy

index finger pointing to the words "task Force"

In a notoriously digital age, the healthcare industry has been the newest convert to online, virtual, and distance-based telehealth technology. The National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA), the Alliance for Connected Care, and the American Telemedicine Association—with enthusiastic support from 22 experts on various points of the healthcare spectrum—have formed a synergistic Taskforce on Telehealth policy (TTP). The group recently launched a forward-thinking campaign that targets three fundamental categories:

  1. The cost of telehealth service expansion (programmatic concerns).
  2. Protections and safeguards for patients in remote environments (patient concerns).
  3. Data flow, care integration, and quality control (system-level concerns).

COVID-19 has prompted a reflexive response from the healthcare industry as they struggle to make sense of COVID’s ramifications for patients. The unexpected arrival of a public health crisis has put tremendous pressure on telehealth technology to be the new Holy Grail of patient care. The TTP reports budgetary, access, and utility recommendations regarding telehealth services in the wake of COVID-19.

On the programmatic side, TTP members have voiced concern over different administrative aspects of care delivery, with the most pressing being—

  • What other avenues could lead to telehealth service expansion? 
  • How is telehealth technology perceived by patients across programs? 
  • How will costs be determined for in-person and telehealth care models?

On the user side, the TTP has questioned vulnerabilities that intersect between programs and patients. Among the major uncertainties are—

  • How can patient safety be monitored and put into practice?
  • What protocols could dissuade fraudulent actors from behaving badly?
  • Could quantitative priorities outshine a patient-centered model? 

These topics are nestled within larger policy debates that toe the local, state, and federal line. The main system-level talking points include—

  • What regulatory criteria should be used during and after a health crisis?
  • How are technical resources allocated to patients and providers?
  • Has COVID-19 started a new telehealth and telemedicine revolution, or has it cratered the online modality with insurmountable problems? 

By all accounts the consequences of COVID-19 have been enormous, yet healthcare delivery challenges have spurred a scramble for answers. In a time when the state of the world has been compromised, and thoughtful debates are often sidelined in favor of short-term gains, it takes an experienced team to reduce the collective discomfort. The TTP is staying one step ahead of the curve by recommending standards “that will help realize telehealth’s potential to drive well-coordinated, patient-centered, and value-optimized care.

Resource:

National Committee for Quality Assurance (n.d.). Taskforce on Telehealth Policy. (Description: a website for one of the main groups responsible for forming the TTP, the (NCQA), which serves as a primary source of information about new TTP policy initiatives). 

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