As more people are diagnosed with COVID-19, health agencies have urged hospitals and post-acute providers to expand their use of telemedicine and remote monitoring technology to reach patients at home.
CMS Expands Telehealth for Medicare Recipients
On Monday, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) said it is expanding access to telehealth services for people with Medicare. The agency will now allow for more than 80 additional services to be furnished via telehealth. This means people can receive care where they are. If they have COVID-19, they can remain in isolation and prevent spread of the virus. If they aren’t infected, they can get care without risking exposure to others who may be ill.
FDA Greenlights Expanded Remote Monitoring
The FDA recently issued a policy to facilitate greater use of remote patient monitoring tools so people can remain at home but still receive the care they need. According to the guidance, some devices originally cleared for healthcare settings can now be used in the home. This includes leveraging devices for tracking vital signs including body temperature, blood pressure, and respiratory and heart rates, to add to the information that can be collected during telehealth visits. The guidance is limited to the duration of the public health emergency around COVID-19.
Earlier, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended that hospitals use technology and self-assessment tools with patients who can be cared for at home.
And, the New York Department of Health now requires that home health and hospice providers screen prospective patients for COVID-19 symptoms. Staff are required to self-monitor daily for fever and other symptoms. In addition, providers must be able to confirm their employees are self-monitoring and have no symptoms. We expect more states to follow suit.
The Future of Healthcare
The coronavirus outbreak has placed a premium on access to care and care coordination. It has elevated the need for tools to help ensure that staff are healthy and available to care for patients. And, it has demonstrated the need to embrace digital tools to deliver healthcare to wherever people are, especially the home. This need will remain even after the pandemic has passed.