Policy Examples

  • In 2016 Congress approved the Expanding Capacity for Health Outcomes (ECHO) Act, which called for a national study on the project ECHO program with a goal of eventually making it a federally funded service. Project ECHO is a hub and spoke telemedicine program to connect rural and remote practitioners with specialists to discuss cases that would otherwise be outside of their system. The study issued to Congress in 2019 concluded that the ECHO program had rapidly expanded, however, the success of this expansion has not rigorously evaluated associated patient or provider outcomes. source
  • The proposed ECHO Act of 2019 builds on the report findings by “providing grants and technical assistance to develop and evaluate technology-enabled collaborative learning and capacity building model.” source
  • In 2019, a bipartisan group of senators introduced a bill designed to expand telemedicine services through Medicare benefits. The Creating Opportunities Now for Necessary and Effective Care Technologies (CONNECT) for Health Act of 2019 would loosen some of Medicare's restrictions on geographic and originating sites for patients seeking telemedicine services for mental health and emergency medical care. source

Outcome Evidence

  • In 2018, an estimated 7 million patients in the United States used telemedicine services with increasing consumer demand. source
  • The telemedicine market is expected to hit $130 billion by 2025, according to a recent report. source
  • According to a 2019 Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) report, nearly all large employers now provide telehealth or "virtual care" as an option for employees, and 20% of employers said the services are used annually by 8% or more of their workers. Just over half of respondents said their top health care initiative in 2019 was adding more virtual care solutions. source
  • UnitedHealthcare plans to make virtual visits available to more than four million Medicare Advantage members next year, enabling them to remotely connect with a care provider for minor health issues or behavioral health support. source
  • A 2017 AmericanWell survey found that consumers are delaying needed care, but telehealth can offer a viable solution. Patients are willing to see physicians who offer video visits, with many other applications for telehealth. source
  • A 2018 article written by the American Hospital Association cited various studies which track evidenced ways that telehealth improves access to care. source
  • Some physicians are pursuing licenses in all 50 states so they can offer telemedicine services to meet demand. source

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