Telehealth

Expanding telehealth access

Telehealth

Expanding telehealth access

Kaiser Permanente believes we must meet patients where they live, work, and play.

Telehealth technologies enable Kaiser Permanente members to receive a wide variety of clinical care services safely, conveniently, and free from geographic constraints. These technologies, including video, phone, and email, support interactions between patients and their physicians and other health professionals; remote patient monitoring; remote evaluation of prerecorded video or images; and virtual consultations between practitioners. Telehealth tools are proving critical during the COVID-19 pandemic. About 50% of our ambulatory care visits across the enterprise are now conducted virtually by video or phone call, including an average of nearly 45,000 video visits per weekday. As of early October 2020, KP had conducted 18 times as many video visits as in all of 2019.

Despite strong evidence that telehealth can be an essential component of care delivery, there are policy and payment barriers to widespread use. Policymakers can save patients’ time and increase affordability by championing policies that support and expand its use.
 

Kaiser Permanente supports the following principles:

  • Expand telehealth access and coverage: Policies should support expanded access to telehealth services, and coverage should treat in-person and telehealth services the same where clinically appropriate.
  • Align rules governing telehealth among states: States differ in their approaches to telehealth regulation — including differences in the definition of telehealth, requirements for coverage, the need to obtain consent, technical requirements, and other provisions. This variation makes it challenging to replicate solutions and workflows across jurisdictions. We must broaden telehealth availability and, to the extent possible, adopt consistent rules.
  • Facilitate physician licensure through the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact: State medical boards rightly ensure consumer protection through licensure processes. As the need for telehealth increases, states should adopt the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact, allowing physicians to more easily provide care to our patients across state lines.
     

 

1 Kaiser Permanente Digital Metrics Report, 2019.
2 Accenture Consulting, 2018.
3 MarketWatch, 2014.