JLF’s Jordan Roberts recently published a research paper in conjunction with the Brookings Institution. In the paper, Roberts and his coauthors, Dr. Nichol Turner Lee and Dr. Jack Karsten of the Center for Technology Innovation, discuss removing regulatory barriers to telehealth services following the coronavirus outbreak. Roberts explains the purpose of their paper this week in a research brief:
The goal of this paper was to explain how telehealth is regulated and assess barriers to telehealth adoption. Barriers to adoption are an important part of the discussion because we believe that if more telehealth were adopted, it will create new avenues of access to health care, improve health outcomes, and reduce health care spending.
Roberts summarized their findings:
We… highlighted four barriers we believe are standing in the way of more telehealth adoption:
- Reimbursement: lack of uniformity in how patients or insurers reimburse providers for delivering care via telehealth
- Licensure: restrictions on which health care providers can treat patients
- Rural broadband: a lack of broadband infrastructure for which to facilities the delivery of telehealth
- Existing health disparities: among medically underserved communities, existing relationships and knowledge about the health care system can be limited
Roberts and his coauthors made several recommendations to address these concerns:
- Data on COVID-19 telehealth administration and programs must be collected and analyzed.
- Regulatory flexibility should be built into telehealth to accommodate the range of use cases.
- Telehealth services should be utilized for primary care to reduce service redundancies.
- States should be empowered to move away from parity models to reduce the cost of telehealth services.
- Telehealth services should be available to the medically underserved.
- Innovation, privacy, and data security in telehealth services should be the norm.