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Monthly Archives

June 2023

Telehealth groups applaud CONNECT reintroduction in Senate

By News


By: Rebecca Pifer

Dive Brief:

  • Telehealth groups are cheering after a bipartisan group of 60 senators reintroduced the CONNECT for Health Act last week, which would make pandemic-era virtual care flexibilities permanent if passed.
  • It’s the second time the bill has been reintroduced in Congress as proponents of virtual care look to solidify COVID-19 gains in telehealth accessibility and use before temporary flexibilities run out at the end of 2024.
  • Companion legislation has also been introduced in the House.

Dive Insight:

Permanently expanding telemedicine access has broad bipartisan support in Congress. A number of bills have been introduced to codify more telehealth protections after COVID-19, including CONNECT, which is considered the most comprehensive virtual care legislation by advocacy groups.

Since CONNECT was first introduced in 2016, a number of the bill’s original provisions have been enacted into law or adopted as policy by the CMS, including in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic as Washington threw open the doors to broader telehealth use. Then a 2022 spending package extended a number of the changes through Dec. 31, 2024, giving regulators and Congress more time to analyze telehealth efficacy in Medicare and make any desired COVID-era changes permanent.

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Broadband Permitting Processes Must Change

By News

To ensure the successful rollout of universal broadband, streamlining the complex web of permitting is critical.

Source: The Fast Mode

By Cheri Beranek

Bridging the digital divide is within our reach. As the federal government gears up to deliver $42.5 billion in Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) Program funds, unserved Americans in the hardest-to-reach and most expensive-to-build areas will soon gain affordable access to high-speed broadband.

But outdated, overlapping, and redundant permitting processes across the jurisdictions of multiple institutions threaten deployment with delays and prohibitive fees. BEAD funding is on a four-year timeline, and according to Competitive Carriers Association President Steve Berry, the “average time frame for a fiber deployment in rural areas is from five to 10 years.”

These permitting problems have always existed, but with the influx of BEAD funding comes skyrocketing demand that will pile on to existing backlogs and threaten to destroy deployment projects before they can even begin. The time to act is now: Let’s treat this historic investment with the respect it deserves to be successful and invest in breaking down the barriers that could stand in its way.

The complicated web of permitting

The permitting problem affects every region undergoing broadband deployment, and permitting delays cost time and money. While $42.5 billion may seem like a lot, experts have argued it might not be enough. This is especially true if new networks are not built in a timely and cost-efficient manner because of permitting delays.

As providers attempt to deploy broadband in areas that need it, they also need to seek permission to set up those networks. Permit processing varies across the country, and providers often need to coordinate deployment across several agencies—local utilities and local and state governments; crossing federal lands can bring in the Department of Interior and Department of Transportation. It can cost tens of thousands of dollars in permitting fees and delays just to cross a railroad.

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Advancements Series to Explore Improvements in Telehealth Connectivity

By News

Source: Cision PRWeb

An upcoming segment of Advancements with Ted Danson will focus on recent innovations in telehealth technology.

With a look at certain disparities being felt throughout the healthcare industry, Advancements will explore the need for broadband and telehealth services today. Audiences will discover how the COVID-19 pandemic brought to light the severity of the digital divide in South Carolina, especially in rural and low-income communities.

Audiences will learn how Palmetto Care Connections’ (PCC) Digital Inclusion Solutions are helping to close the digital divide for residents in rural and underserved areas by increasing internet access and affordability, and by connecting individuals to quality-of-life resources through digital literacy trainings.

“Through our digital inclusion program, PCC has reached over 1,200 South Carolinians in rural and underserved communities in 14 Counties with some of the highest health disparities,” said Kathy Schwarting, chief executive officer of PCC. “Each program participant received in person digital literacy training with a telehealth and health literacy segment, a laptop or tablet, and assistance with affordable internet solutions.”

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A New Map Could Mean Less Money to Expand Broadband for Some States

By News

Source: Route Fifty

By Kery Murakami

In three weeks, the federal government will dole out billions from the infrastructure act to each state to expand broadband service.

To make sure the nearly $42.5 billion goes to where it’s needed most, places with either no or poor internet access will be prioritized using a map from the Federal Communications Commission.

The FCC has been scrambling for months now to refine its data in a move that Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel described as “another step forward in its iterative effort to develop the best and most accurate broadband maps ever built in the United States.”

The agency last week released a new version that could shift where billions of dollars will be going.

The change could be good news for states like Alaska, which could get about $180 million more than it would have under earlier versions of the map. But Michigan could lose about $400 million to improve broadband service in their state, according to a review of the new FCC data in a newsletter followed by many in the broadband industry.

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South Carolina’s Innovative Broadband Maps Verifies ISPs’ Internet Speeds

By News

South Carolina performs mapping audits to hold ISPs accountable for coverage claims.

Source: Broadband Breakfast

by: Teralyn Whipple

South Carolina’s innovative state broadband map can accurately identify areas of over-reporting by internet service providers, the director of the state’s broadband office said in a Friday Ask Me Anything! session in the broadband community.

South Carolina processes the same data as does the Federal Communications Commission as it creates its broadband map. However, it also performs audits on the ISPs to ensure they are submitting accurate data. Hence, the state can determine errors in reporting data based on where the ISP’s networks had been deployed previously and where state investments have gone, said Jim Stritzinger, director of the state’s broadband office.

Providers are required to file amended returns with the FCC in the event that South Carolina’s state broadband office flags errors in their reporting information. Errors include misreporting of technology types.

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UK Robot Surgeons Treat Women with Endometriosis

By News

Source: Interesting Engineering

By: Loukia Papadopoulos

The machines cost a whopping $2.5 million each but the patients they treat believe they are well worth the money.

In the UK, robot surgeons that cost a whopping £2 million ($2.5 million) each are helping thousands of women plagued by the painful womb condition endometriosis.

This is according to a report by the Daily Mail published on Saturday.

The remote-controlled machines are being used by NHS Trusts to operate on all the women who missed out on these crucial operations during the Covid pandemic. The devices work with pinpoint accuracy meaning patients recover faster and better with less complications.

Endometriosis is a condition that develops when tissue that would normally line the womb starts to grow in other parts of the body, such as the ovaries, bowel and bladder, even occasionally in the spine, lungs or brain.

Regardless of their new location, they still behaves just like womb tissue, swelling and bleeding every month during a woman’s period, causing intense pain.

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Telehealth Use Rose 1.8% Nationally in March

By News

By Mark Melchionna

According to new data, national telehealth use increased marginally by 1.8 percent, making up 5.6 percent of medical claim lines in March.

June 06, 2023 – Following a slight decline in February, telehealth use increased slightly in March at the national level and in two United States census regions, according to the FAIR Health Monthly Telehealth Regional Tracker.

The FAIR Health Monthly Telehealth Regional Tracker is a service that describes how telehealth usage changes monthly by tracking claim lines, procedure codes, and diagnostic categories. The tracker represents a privately insured population, includes Medicare Advantage, and excludes Medicare Fee-for-Service and Medicaid beneficiaries.
Although the severity of the COVID-19 pandemic is not as high as it once was, telehealth remains widely used. The March release of the FAIR Health Monthly Telehealth Regional Tracker reflected this.

In March, telehealth use increased by 1.8 percent at the national level. It also rose by 2.4 percent in the Midwest and 2.6 percent in the West. In the Northeast and the South, telehealth use stayed the same.

Nationally, telehealth occupied 5.6 percent of claim lines in March, slightly higher than the 5.5 percent reported in February.

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Medicaid Coverage Linked to Rise in Telehealth Use, Healthcare Access

By News


 By Anuja Vaidya


Medicaid coverage of telehealth was linked to increases in telehealth use and care access before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, but private insurance coverage was not.

Medicaid coverage of telehealth services between 2013 and 2019 was associated with significant increases in telehealth use and healthcare access, but private insurer coverage of telehealth during the same period was not similarly linked to increases in use and access, a recent study shows.

Published in Health Services Research, the study examined the association between state Medicaid and private insurer telehealth coverage requirements, telehealth use, and healthcare access. Researchers analyzed survey data from the 2013-2019 Association of American Medical Colleges Consumer Survey of Health Care Access. The respondents included 4,492 Medicaid-enrolled and 15,581 privately insured adults under 65.

Researchers conducted separate analyses on Medicaid and private insurer telehealth coverage requirements. The primary outcome was the use of live video communication in the past year, and secondary outcomes included same-day appointments, being able to always get needed care, and having enough options for receiving care.

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