NCQA discusses three key ways to achieve equitable telehealth

Health and Wellness Informatics News

The American Medical Association(AMA) released a report and outlined key steps toward equity in the telehealth landscape. AMA believes that developing and implementing telehealth solutions can prioritize partnerships.

NCQA said that broadband access and outdated laws are hurdles to equitable telehealth. The National Committee for Quality Assurance(NCQA) released a white paper. The paper explores the root causes of disparities in virtual care access. The report also outgrew out of an NCQA roundtable discussion on the future of telehealth. It outlines existing barriers to equity and recommendations for improving care delivery.

NCQA President Margaret E. O’Kane stated that a change in healthcare delivery was on its way with the dynamic advancements in technology. O’Kane continued that with the expansion of virtual care, unique patient needs and preferences must get identified and prioritized. This is also important to close the gaps in health care and not widen existing disparities.

In October 2021, NCQA hosted a roundtable discussion. This included a multidisciplinary panel of experts in telehealth practice, technology, regulation, and policy. Also, there was an emphasis on backgrounds in health equity or health technology. The panel identified three key opportunities to improve equitable telehealth. These also got centered upon the prioritization of patient-focused services.

These opportunities include tailoring telehealth use and addressing regulatory, policy, and infrastructure barriers to fair access. It also includes leveraging digital technologies to promote equitable delivery. However, the participants identified various challenges in delivering optimal telehealthcare.

Privacy and data sharing concerns, Lack of flexibility in delivery modalities, and antiquated federal legislation are some of these challenges. Others include lack of broadband access, restrictive reimbursement and coverage policies and restrictive and disparate state licensure laws.

The white paper authors also stated, “Ease-of-use design principles, expanding broadband infrastructure, streamlining medical licensure to support interstate practice and sufficient reimbursement of telehealth services (payment parity) are essential approaches that maximize benefits and help realize the full potential of telehealth and related digital tools.”

Major retailers such as Amazon and Walmart invested big in equitable telehealth expansion. However, advocates and some legislators have warned that virtual care access may remain fragmented.

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