HHS Launches New Telehealth Site & more Telehealth Buzz

HHS Launches New Telehealth Site for Physicians and Patients

  • Yesterday the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) launched a website to centralize information for patients and providers interested in utilizing telehealth during the pandemic.
  • The patient-focused page covers telehealth options; understanding telehealth; telehealth during COVID-19; and preparing for a video visit.
  • The provider page includes sections on getting started; planning your telehealth workflow; preparing patients for telehealth; policy changes during the pandemic; billing and reimbursement; legal considerations, and a resources page.
  • You can access the website here.

Five New Health Centers to Receive FCC Telehealth Grant

  • The CARES Act included $200 million for Federal Communications Commission (FCC) grants to help practitioners provide connected care services to patients remotely during the pandemic.
  • So far, the FCC has awarded $6.94 million to 11 health systems in 8 states, including $3.71 million to five health centers this past week.
  • Last week’s recipients include NYU Langone (New York, NY); Banyan Community Health (Coral Gables, FL); Health Partners of Western Ohio (Lima, OH); University of Michigan Hospital (Ann Arbor, MI); and St. John’s Well Child and Family Center (Los Angeles, CA).
  • In addition to distributing grant funds, the FCC announced the suspension of the “red light” rule, meaning providers who owe the FCC money will not be prohibited from applying for a grant under the COVID-19 Telehealth Program.
  • Read the full story here.

The Telehealth Abortion Debate Continues During COVID-19

  • The Pennsylvania Senate narrowly passed SB 857 this week, a bill to expand telehealth services in the state.
  • The bill originally focused on telemedicine standards for specialists and insurance reimbursement for telehealth services and was recently amended to enhance the delivery of health care services remotely.
  • It is predicted that the bill will die on Governor Tom Wolf’s desk because of an amendment added in the House banning the telemedicine prescribing of medications on the U.S. Food and Drug Administrations Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy List. The early-term abortion medication mifepristone is included on this list.
  • A spokesperson for the Governor said the bill would be vetoed because of the provision.
  • Read the full story here.

FDA Releases New Pre-market Certification Standards for Telemental Health Products

  • At the beginning of the month, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) published new guidelines for telehealth and mHealth certification.
  • COVID-19 has required the FDA to reconsider its pre-market standards for Class 2 prescription-only connected health tools that treat various mental health issues.
  • The guidelines are not meant to address telemental devices that replace psychiatric care but to provide more tools to patients at a time when providers are swamped.
  • The guidance does not do away with all the original standards. The FDA will still be using the current verification, validation, and hazard analysis. The certification requirements are just more relaxed.
  • Read the full story here.

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