Following President Trump’s announced executive order directing the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to issue rules ensuring that specific regulatory changes to telemedicine will remain in place once the COVID-19 pandemic ends, HHS will need to healthcare access to rural areas and to create a novel value-based payment model to improve reimbursement, according to GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company.
Kajal Jaddoo, Associate Pharma Analyst at GlobalData, comments: “The decision to make telemedicine expansions permanent will have positive implications on the management of patients in the US in several therapeutic indications such as pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH). The new payment model is intended to incentivize and offer providers leeway with some Medicare rules that will allow patients to get essential, high-quality care. In addition, the HHS, the US Department of Agriculture and the Federal Communications Commission were directed to launch a task force dedicated to developing broadband infrastructure to help support rural telehealth services.
“The catchment area is huge for PAH specialists in the US, as patients from rural areas would have had to travel several hours to attend follow-up visits that could have been done virtually over video. Key opinion leaders interviewed by GlobalData have emphasized that prior to COVID-19, telemedicine use was very low among PAH patients, but has now increased to 75% due to the growing number of PAH patients with mild symptoms using virtual visits.”
In light of the executive order, PAH patients are expected to continue utilizing telemedicine services even after the COVID-19 pandemic. Patients who live hours away will now have the flexibility to be examined virtually by their physicians and will only need to visit to have tests such as right heart catheterization or chest x-ray to confirm diagnosis of PAH.
Jaddoo concludes: “While this will provide more flexibility to patients, rare diseases such as PAH can be difficult to diagnose and manage using telemedicine. Therefore, severely ill patients should continue to visit their specialist physicians, while those with milder disease can take advantage of the telemedicine expansions.”