Yesterday, we posted a video detailing Baptist Health South Florida’s use of telehealth to improve medication adherence among patients, particularly those with congestive heart failure.
The Most Wired Innovator award winner connects patients with an e-pharmacist to make sure that patients are following the right treatment plan and to safeguard against adverse drug events. The interventions helped to trim readmission rates for patients in the pilot project to 11.6 percent, much better than the 24 percent average for Medicare patients.
Frances Dare, managing director for Accenture Health, believes that one day these types of programs no longer will need the “innovator” qualifier.
“At some point, telehealth and virtual visits will just be the way that care is delivered,” Dare told me during an interview yesterday.
Part of Dare’s optimism is fueled by new Medicare reimbursement policies that take hold in 2015. Within its physician fee schedule rule issued earlier this month, CMS added seven new telemedicine codes eligible for billing by physicians. Significantly, Dare says, the agency decoupled care management and remote monitoring for chronic disease patients from the requirement that billing originate in a rural environment. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for all telehealth provisions.
Still, CMS’ actions generally are a recognition that telehealth needs to be seen as part of a more holistic approach to care delivery, Dare says. Services that keep patients at home — or close to home and out of the hospital — will become increasingly important in a value-based environment, she adds.
Does your organization have a telehealth program? If so, we’d like to know what you are doing.