The Role of Telehealth in the New $8.3 Billion Coronavirus Act Signed by President Trump

The Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act was signed on Friday by President Trump. This will provide $8.3 billion to combat the Coronavirus(COVID-19), a staggering $5.8 billion more than the President had originally requested. Funding is slated to supplement the Food and Drug Administration, National Institutes of Health, Public Health and Social Services, the Centers for Disease Control, the Small Business Administration, the Department of State, and the U.S. Agency for International Development. In addition, it will aid with vaccine development, medical supplies, and public health organizations and agencies.

Of note, one of the most impactful outcomes of this approved Act is the Telehealth Services provision. The approval allows Health and Human Services(HHS) to “temporarily waive certain Medicare restrictions” in regards to telemedicine during the current COVID-19 emergency. Beneficiaries will be allowed to utilize telehealth regardless of their location. This is in opposition to typical coverage which highlights rural community needs. The patient population is of most importance, due to their predominant medical conditions and advanced age. The CDC indicates that the country of origin, China, has demonstrated that the high-risk population includes older adults, and people with chronic diseases like Diabetes, Cardiovascular Disease, or Respiratory Conditions. A typical geriatric Medicare patient with comorbidities is like a bullseye for COVID-19. Approximately $500 million has been allocated by the emergency bill in waivers for Medicare specific telehealth restrictions.

What we know is that coronavirus(COVID-19) is a novel respiratory disease, from a family of viruses found in a multitude of animal species. In rare instances, the animal reservoir virus can infect people. The novel virus we are dealing with currently is named SARS-CoV-2. Initially, COVID-19 was thought to be animal-to-person, but further research has shown that it is transmitted person-to-person. We have also witnessed communities spread abroad and in the United States. Currently, 34 states have been affected.

With the looming threat of COVID-19 infiltrating the entire country, Let’s Talk Interactive has HIPAA compliant telemedicine solutions. Our SecureVideo platform has proven its worth in supporting health systems during a prior Ebola outbreak. With any emergency, response scalability is of utmost importance. High volume patient management in isolated environments and remote medical care are optimized with the key comments of the platform. Organizations can triage based on patient need, and queues for different patient groups as well as provider status categories can be created.

Patients can access with their own personal devices, and join via e-mail, text message, or the Let’s Talk Interactive Portal, granting on-demand screening and in-home monitoring. Additionally, patients will have access to nurses and physicians which will help escalate based on risk assessment. Providers may initiate video communication with other providers, or via the secure chat feature. Grand rounds and large group meetings also prove to be beneficial for interfacing in community outbreaks of this nature.

Given the rapid daily changes, the COVID-19 infiltration of 95 countries, and the death toll approaching 4,000, it is imperative that we continue to prepare and build appropriate healthcare infrastructure to bear the weight of the continued spread. Let’s Talk Interactive is dedicated to working with health systems around the world to make a difference and help combat the potential devastation of this outbreak.