The The Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC) have offered new advice to policymakers regarding the future of telehealth and how it can be optimized, based on Medicare findings. The BPC is a think tank situated in Washington DC, that offers mediation between healthcare organizations to develop the safest and most optimal healthcare systems for American citizens. The main goal of BPC is to ‘get things done’
The BPC examined how Medicare beneficiaries used telehealth after barriers to virtual care were removed in its latest report on the subject. According to the survey, only Medicare patients who lived in rural areas frequently used telehealth prior to the COVID-19 outbreak. But after the pandemic struck in 2020, regulatory adjustments made it more common for Medicare patients to use telemedicine. Prior to the global pandemic that took place between 2020 and 2021, there was percentage rate of under one percent of individuals in receipt of Medicare benefits that used telehealth. By April of the first year of the pandemic, over thirty percent of these individuals had availed of telehealth in their benefit claims. Following this, data on telehealth use, including demographics and preferred virtual care channels, has been acquired by academics who have also looked at the effects of regulatory flexibility. These include the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), permitting all beneficiaries to receive telehealth services from their homes and paying for audio-only telehealth services.
In April 2021, the BPC began to conduct research to investigate if it is still worth continuing the current levels of telehealth following the peak of the pandemic. The organization performed a national consumer survey on telehealth, evaluated more than 200 papers, and examined Medicare fee-for-service telehealth utilization. With this, the BPC came to their conclusion and outlined their recommendations moving forward under four headings:
The BPC feels strongly that benefit transparency and consumer protections should be maintained, in addition to fair access to care, are essential. Government agencies should endeavor to improve policies against things such as fraud and waste, encourage provider engagement, and improve the quality of data and maximize reimbursement efforts.
- Behavioral health
Behavioral Health states organizations should remove burdensome in-person procedures and allow telehealth-based prescription drug screening to continue.
- Primary care
Here, the BPC recommends remote primary care should be accessible for twenty four months after the pandemics end, and should review reimbursement for virtual care of this nature, with a potient reform of the payment system.
- Specialty services.