September 19, 2022
Telehealth. Is. Health.
Just ask the 14,000+ patients Sound’s tele-physicians treat every month – in the ICU, inpatient wards, skilled nursing facilities, and at home.
As Chief Medical Officer for Telemedicine at Sound Physicians, I couldn’t be prouder of our telemedicine programs, especially the work we’re doing for patients receiving post-acute and long-term care. Thanks to advancing technology, regulatory changes, and our highly-collaborative home health and SNF partners, Sound provides access to physician services in places where they’ve historically lagged.
This week, we’re joining the American Telemedicine Association—the only organization in the U.S. entirely focused on advancing telehealth access for all Americans—in celebrating Telehealth Awareness Week. Along with the ATA and many of the nation’s leading health systems, we’re shining a light on the ways telehealth improves access to quality care for those who need it most.
1.3 million Americans will spend time in a skilled nursing facility this year.1 These elderly, frail, high-acuity patients lack physician access compared to patients with similar conditions in the hospital, where a physician can be at the bedside 24 hours a day. Telemedicine gives SNFs an economically viable way to ensure adequate physician support for some of our nation’s most vulnerable patients. When a night-shift nurse can immediately access a physician on video, who can see, assess, and treat a patient’s condition on the spot, care improves.
We’re also helping patients receive better care at home through our home health agency partnerships. Leveraging telemedicine, our physicians provide a full range of clinical support, from certifying home health orders to expanding the potential for higher-acuity care in the home. For the 25% of patients in the U.S. who do not have a primary care physician2, telemedicine provides a lifeline to home health services and the necessary home health order certification.
As an organization, we’ve always been committed to improving quality and reducing the costs of healthcare in the communities we serve. Today we’re improving clinical outcomes beyond the hospital walls for patients in SNFs and at home thanks to telehealth.
Now we need the U.S. government to support these patients, our programs, and all telemedicine providers by extending Medicare telehealth flexibilities beyond the COVID-19 public health emergency.
HR4040, also known as “Advancing Telehealth Beyond COVID–19 Act of 2022,” has already been approved by the House. The Senate must do its part, pass HR4040, and send it to the President as soon as possible to sign into law.
HR4040 will extend certain telehealth flexibilities beyond the COIVD-19 public health emergency, including:
- Removing geographic requirements and expanding originating sites for telehealth services
- Expanding Practitioners eligible to furnish telehealth services
- Extending telehealth services for Federally qualified health centers and rural health clinics
- Delaying the in-person requirements under Medicare for mental health services furnished through telehealth and telecommunications technology
- Extending the use of telehealth to conduct face-to-face encounters prior to recertification of eligibility for hospice care during
With the passing of HR4040, we can continue to improve physician access to underserved populations in 2023 and beyond. I urge you to share your support for HR4040 and the American Telemedicine Association this week and all year because #TelehealthIsHealth!