WBB's Thought Leadership

VA Closer to Offering Nationwide TeleHealth Services

November 6

The Veterans E-Health and Telemedicine Support Act of 2017 (H.R. 2123) passed the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs and seeks to allow VA to use TeleHealth across state lines.

Currently, VA physicians can only use TeleHealth across state lines if both the physician and patient are located in a federal facility. The new rule would allow the patient to be in any location.

WBB Take: Removing legal obstacles to providing TeleHealth services across state lines potentially expands access to patients in remote and underserved locations, reduces transport costs, and increases physician efficiency. However, TeleHealth creates new quality risks. Healthcare facilities and states have differences in their policies, duty definitions, and formularies. As a result, WBB has seen that admissions, referrals, and prescriptions issued by TeleHealth physicians have sometimes clashed with the local norms, and have caused confusion and conflict between local clinicians and the TeleHealth physicians.
To avoid risks and issues related to variation between the TeleHealth service and local healthcare facilities, clear rules, roles, and responsibilities need to be established prior to deployment, and TeleHealth services should be monitored and evaluated to identify risks, issues, and opportunities for improvement during and after deployment.

Cited by Shannen Irwin and Matthew Loxton

Excerpt: “The House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs on Thursday passed a bill to remove restrictions on the ability of VA providers to practice telemedicine across state lines.”
“The Veterans E-Health and Telemedicine Support Act of 2017 (H.R. 2123) is meant to expand veterans’ ability to access quality healthcare, particularly for those living in rural areas of the country that are not in close proximity to a VA facility.”
“In August, VA Secretary David Shulkin, MD, announced at a White House event with President Trump that the agency would be amending regulations to allow the VA’s healthcare providers to practice in any state when they are acting within the scope of their employment.”
“Last month, the VA published a proposed rule in the Federal Register that would allow such telehealth providers to more easily administer care across state lines. Under current law, VA physicians can only waive state licensing requirements and provide telehealth treatment across state lines if both the veteran and the doctor are located in a federally owned facility. However, the VETS Act removes these barriers and would allow VA health professionals to practice telehealth across state lines provided they are qualified and practice within the scope of their authorized federal duties.”
“In addition, under provisions of the VETS Act, veterans would no longer be required to travel to a VA facility and instead could receive telemedicine treatment from any location, including their home or a community center.”
 

Source: Health Data Management


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