HHS has transitioned National Coordinator for Health IT Karen DeSalvo (a.k.a. the head of ONC) to Acting Assistant Secretary for Health, effective immediately. Government Health IT reports that DeSalvo, who is a physician with experience in public health, will be part of HHS’ Ebola response team and work “directly with [HHS Secretary] Sylvia Burwell on pressing public health issues.” It was not clear from the announcement if the transition will be permanent.
Impact Advisors’ Thoughts: Only time will tell if this move will have any significant long-term implications. Purely from ONC’s perspective though, any instability at the agency (perceived or actual) in the near term probably isn’t a good thing with Meaningful Use, EHR certification, and other federal HIT initiatives under fire.
Some interesting studies on telehealth have been published in the last two months:
- A new report from BBC Research predicts that the global market for “telehealth technology” will reach a staggering $43.4 billion (!) by 2019, up from an estimated $19.2 billion in 2014. The compound annual growth rate during that time is expected to be 17.7%.
- According to Mobihealthnews, an August 2014 study from HiMSS Analytics found that close to half of hospitals and health systems (46%) currently use multiple telehealth technologies. Forty percent of respondents said the ability to “fill in gaps in patient care” was the primary driver for their telehealth adoption, while 23% said they were driven primarily by the ability to “offer care that is not otherwise available.” Interestingly, less than 3% of respondents cited cost reductions as a primary driver.
Most Widely Used Telehealth Technologies by Hospitals and Health Systems
Source: “2014 U.S. Telemedicine Study,” HIMSS Analytics via www.mobihealthnews.com, August 14, 2014
Impact Advisors’ Thoughts: We believe that telehealth has the potential to be a big opportunity for many of our clients in the next few years. Right now significant ROI may not be realistic in many regions and states, but traditional barriers to telehealth reimbursement are starting to fall. Hospitals and health systems that continue to experiment with even basic telehealth efforts in the near term will likely have a much easier time engaging patients in their community – and physicians at their organization – down the road when the time comes to roll out more robust (and ROI intensive) initiatives.