2019 News

The ECHO Act Could Increase Telemedicine Programs in Rural Areas Throughout the U.S. (Blog Series 2 of 3)

Posted by John Kornak on Mar 28, 2017 4:00:00 PM

What is the ECHO Act?

The Expanding Capacity for Health Outcomes (ECHO) Act, approved unanimously by Congress in late 2016, extends Project ECHO nationwide in attempt to increase access to healthcare resources in rural areas through telehealth solutions and continuing medical education. Project ECHO (Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes) was originally introduced by a University of New Mexico Professor of Medicine in the Department of Internal Medicine, Dr. Sanjeev Arora, upon realizing the barriers of providing care to liver disease patients due to the lack of skilled medical clinicians able to treat their condition. The Project began in 2003 as a health IT pilot in rural parts of New Mexico and was funded by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ). Project ECHO operates as a hub and spoke telemedicine network that connects primary care providers and regional practitioners with specialists from academic hubs via teleconferencing. The technology provided by Project ECHO allows specialists to transport medical education and knowledge to mentor local primary care providers and nurses. Patients living in underserved and rural areas receive high-quality specialty care in the right place at the right time without being burdened by transportation. Since the introduction in 2003, the model has successfully expanded to over 90 academic hubs covering 45 diseases and conditions including pain management and addiction.

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Topics: Telehealth, telecommunication, telemedicine, Healthcare, Healthcare Legislation, The ECHO Act, Telehealth Legislation

The 21st Century Cures Act Could Mean Progress for the Use of Telehealth in Medicare and Medicaid (Blog Series 1 of 3)

Posted by John Kornak on Mar 27, 2017 4:00:00 PM

 What is the 21st Century Cures Act?

Over 1,000 pages of legislation make up the Cures Act (or 21st Century Cures Act) passed by Congress on December 7, 2016 and signed by President Obama on December 13, 2016. While the Cures Act is being applauded more as a biomedical research funding bill, reforming the drug approval processes, and increasing funding for scientific research, there are also major allocations (in the area of $6.3 billion) for electronic medical records, precision medicine, mental health services, and fighting opioid abuse. Buried amongst the 1,000 pages of legislation is a callout for provisions on telehealth. Congress is requesting analytical data from The Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and The Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC) on current and potential use of telehealth to see if it improves access to care for Medicare beneficiaries. With a focus on the “originating site” requirement, which states that Medicare beneficiaries are eligible for telehealth services only if they are present from one of eight types of originating sites, Congress is aiming to expand beyond the doctor/patient encounter at facilities typically located in a rural area.

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Topics: Telehealth, telecommunication, telemedicine, Healthcare Legislation, 21st Century Cures Act, Telehealth Legislation