CMS Urged To Support mHealth Innovation In IPPS Through Connected Health Initiative

The Connected Health Initiative (CHI), a coalition composed of a wide range of stakeholders ranging from physician and patient groups to pharmaceutical and software companies and research universities, recently sent a letter to agencies such as the Food and Drug Administration, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), and others in order to further mobile health innovation, while safeguarding confidentiality. The CHI steering committee consists of Boston Children’s Hospital, HIMSS, Apple, and UnitedHealth Group.

In its letter, CHI expressed their support for mobile health innovation and advocated for the Medicare hospital inpatient prospective payment system (IPPS) proposed changes from CMS. Brian Scarpelli, senior global policy counsel, and Leanna Wade, policy associate, from CHI wrote that they strongly encourage CMS to prioritize data generated by patients outside of the traditional care setting in order to create a “seamless and interoperable healthcare ecosystem that leverages the power of PGHD [patient-generated health data] and can be realized through the trusted framework”.

CHI expressed support for the proposed revisions to IPPS and provided comments for CMS to consider before permanently implementing them. CHI encouraged CMS to collaborate with other agencies such as the Office of the Inspector General to create an information blocking rule that would help cut down on confusion and decrease compliance burdens. In addition, CHI endorsed the idea of increasing flexibility within the Promoting Interoperability scoring process as well as limiting compliance burdens. Moreover, CHI was in favor of the proposed Promoting Interoperability measures that would promote the use of telehealth and remote monitoring technologies to address critical issues like the opioid crisis in the United States.

CHI promotes the secure transfer of data between healthcare providers, as well as reducing the workload. To guarantee privacy, the organization endorses technical safeguards and multi-level authentication. CHI, however, has expressed doubts regarding the 2015 ONC CEHRT requirements to ensure smooth interoperability. Lastly, CHI urges CMS to harmonize Medicaid regulations with Medicare’s modifications, so physicians can make use of telehealth and remote monitoring technologies with more freedom.

Prior to the publication of the CHI letter, a recent survey of 10,000 clinicians revealed that although most believe remote patient monitoring (RPM) is effective, the amount of healthcare professionals currently utilizing it is relatively low – 22% in rural areas and 28% in non-rural areas. Furthermore, only around half of both rural and non-rural clinicians expressed interest in adopting RPM tools in the future. Policymakers will be encouraged to keep this data in mind when considering the future of telehealth.