Last week we talked about how MACRA, MIPS, APMs, and the rollback of the ACA impacted our community-based hospitals and clinics. Today, we cover the last two highlights of 2017 which, perhaps not surprisingly, have us here at Azalea Health most excited.
1. Increasing Acceptance of Telehealth
For providers who want to expand their practice without increasing their mileage, telehealth offers a potential new source of income. Even more important are the benefits it delivers to patients: telehealth helps to create healthcare parity by providing better access for those living in rural and underserved areas.
The challenges that will carry over into 2018 are largely under the regulatory authority of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). Medicare has maintained narrow restrictions that limit the type of telehealth services that can be reimbursed as well as the geographic location where those services can take place. Many telehealth advocates are also concerned about ending net neutrality, since telemedicine connectivity uses large amounts of bandwidth.
One of the obstacles to participation in telehealth for some physicians is the lack of interoperability between standalone telehealth systems and EMRs. Azalea Health users have an advantage, since their EHR is the first to be fully integrated with telehealth capabilities.
2. Technology Continues to Advance
The push that began years ago to encourage technology adoption by providers has paid off – both literally and figuratively. As of October 2017, more than 540,800 healthcare providers receive payment for participating in the Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive Programs. This includes:
- More than $24.8 billion in Medicare EHR Incentive Program payments since May 2011
- More than $12.4 billion in Medicaid EHR Incentive Program payments since January 2011
Although EHR adoption is high, interoperability continues to be an issue, particularly when it comes to care transitions and value-based care. The need to communicate across the continuum of care is one reason Azalea Health merged with Prognosis Innovation Healthcare this past October. The Prognosis inpatient solution allows Azalea to expand our presence into critical access and small community hospitals and deliver a comprehensive platform to the rural markets we serve.
As we look to 2018, we at Azalea, hope that the industry continues its advancement to the common goal of achieving one record for one patient!