Daily Briefing – August 29, 2019

“Telehealth is getting even more support from one of the most important payers – Medicare. Last November, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced plans to significantly expand reimbursement rules for telemedicine while removing some geographic restrictions. With the additional reimbursements going into effect in 2020, organizations that haven’t yet launched telehealth programs or services are likely focused on how to make use of telehealth and virtual visits under the new rules, while providers who are already invested in telehealth welcome an opportunity to finally be reimbursed for services they’ve been offering. Is your health system ready to turn up the volume on telehealth? Here are details on the four proposed telehealth service reimbursements for Medicare and Medicare Advantage.”

“While roughly two in three American adult consumers say they would be willing to receive care via telehealth services, just 8% report having ever having a video visit with a doctor, according to survey data from telehealth American Well published yesterday in a white paper. The company commissioned Harris Poll to conduct an online survey more than 2,000 adults, the responses of which were collected in December 2018 and “weighted to be representative of the American adult population across standard demographics.” Among these respondents, willingness to use telehealth was greatest among those aged 18 years to 34 years (74%) and those aged 35 years to 44 years (72%). Interest was lowest among seniors aged 65 years or older (52%). Experience with the technology ranged from 16% among that youngest demographic, to 1% among the senior population. Telehealth use was roughly equal among male and female respondents, but was greatest among respondents living in either the south or southeast parts of the country.”

“In a career full of twists, turns and high-powered assignments, Thomas Insel may now be embarking on one of his most daunting tasks yet — helping California find its way out of a worrisome mental health care crisis. This year, he assumed a new role to help Gov. Gavin Newsom revamp mental health care in the state. Newsom called Insel his “mental health czar,” though his position is unpaid and Insel says it grants him “no authority.” Even so, he is zigzagging across California this summer, visiting mental health facilities to try to understand what works and what doesn’t. Insel’s meandering career path began early. A precocious student, he enrolled in a joint B.A.-M.D. program at Boston University at age 15 and then took a one-year hiatus to volunteer in clinics across Asia. He returned to finish his medical degree and later completed a three-year psychiatry residency at the University of California-San Francisco.”