New Legislation Gives Online Health Care Telehealth Life for Medicare Patients

Last modified: August 2, 2019

Richard Honaker M.D.
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How will telehealth refine online health care for medicare patients across the U.S.? Learn more about the Telehealth Innovation and Improvement Act and get the facts you deserve!

The Telehealth Innovation and Improvement Act has been introduced by senators Gary Peters (MI) and Cory Gardner (R-CO). It is a bipartisan common sense legislation that takes vital steps toward modernizing medicare.

It also aims to extend online health care access for medicare patients, particularly those who live in rural areas. This is sought to be accomplished by blazing a path for medicare to cover additional telehealth services.

Medicare is currently covering limited telehealth services. However, medicare patients could be getting more online health care services that could be on par with those patients presently receive in urban areas.

Why is Telehealth Vital to the Future of Health Care?

First and foremost, let’s discuss what telehealth is. Making use of digital information and communication technologies, such as computers and mobile devices, telehealth manages the health and wellness of patients, regardless of location. Telehealth is sometimes called eHealth or mHealth (short for mobile health).

Telehealth includes a variety of online health care services including . . .

  • Online support groups
  • Online health information and self-management tools
  • Email and online communication with healthcare providers
  • Electronic health records
  • Remote monitoring of vital signs, like blood pressure or symptoms
  • Video or online doctor visits

New Legislation Gives Online Health Care Telehealth Life for Medicare Patients

Invaluable Online Health Care for Medicare Patients with Diabetes

A great way of looking at this advantage is to consider those suffering from diabetes. They could use telehealth to manage their condition without having to leave their home for just a quick consultation. Medicare patients can use their mobile phones to upload food logs, medications, dosing and blood sugar levels for review by a nurse who can respond electronically.

Other online health care services for diabetic patients may include watching a how-to video on counting carbohydrates, or downloading an app for counting carbs to their mobile devices. They can even use the same app to estimate how much insulin is needed, based on their diet and exercise level.

Medicare patients can also send an email, or text message to a nurse or diabetes educator whenever they have questions. They could also order testing supplies and medications online, research the advantages and disadvantages of alternative treatments like insulin pumps.

Patients can even receive emails, texts, and phone reminders whenever a flu shot, a foot exam, or preventive care is needed. These are simply some of the online health care services that medicare patients can take advantage of, but the advantages for health care are seemingly endless.

New Legislation Gives Online Health Care Telehealth Life for Medicare Patients

Telehealth Revolutionizing Online Health Care

Telehealth can further revolutionize online health care by helping more medicare patients receive life-saving treatment. It also aims to increase access to specialized online health care services in underserved communities. This could potentially lower costs and improve diagnosis and treatment outcomes for medicare patients who may not have access to care otherwise.

The Telehealth Innovation and Improvement Act also gives incentives to the industry to develop state-of-the-art technology that can revolutionize online health care delivery. Lowering the costs while increasing the choices for consumers will only make things essentially easier and healthier for all.

The Department of Health and Human Services is required to allow eligible hospitals to test telehealth services through the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation (CMMI). It will also direct CMMI to review and single-handedly assess telehealth models for cost, effectiveness, and improvement in quality of care without increasing the cost of delivery.

If the telehealth model meets the criteria, the model will then be covered through the greater program for all medicare patients.

For instance, since online health care services are vital for the rural health care delivery system, Munson Healthcare, a northern Michigan health system, supports access expansion to these technologies. In turn, hoping to make it easier for medicare patients to connect with qualified medical providers. And in some cases protecting patient health through reducing exposure to other patients for those with compromised immune systems.

What do you think the future of online health care should encompass? The rise of telehealth and the growing need for doctor access for medicare patients could be the perfect match.

Submitted by Dr. Richard Honaker:

Disclaimer: This article provides general information and is not intended to diagnose, treat or cure any disease or medical condition. If you require specific advice, please consult one of our medical professionals through the app. However, in case of an emergency, please call 911.

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