Skip to main content

Four Major Takeaways from the ATA EDGE2021 Conference

The American Telemedicine Association (ATA) EDGE2021 Policy Conference recently wrapped earlier this month. This year’s three-day conference at the Watergate Hotel in Washington, D.C. focused on finding the right care solutions and creating a path forward as momentum behind telehealth continues into 2022. Among its key topics for next year was a distinct focus on telehealth access, availability, and reimbursement initiatives.

With so many thought leaders, policymakers, and Virtual Care experts under one roof, a number of key topics of discussion emerged. These included implementing hybrid care delivery as well as ensuring greater access to vulnerable and underserved populations.

Here are four key takeaways from EDGE2021 that your healthcare organization should know as we approach the two-year mark under the COVID-19 public health emergency.

1. The importance of health equity

Have you stopped to think about how social determinants of health (SDOH) affect your organization’s health outcomes? A recent report from shows that more than 30% of African Americans in the U.S. don’t have access to broadband internet, while a SOMOS survey indicates that number is closer to 40% for Latinos. Those surprising numbers indicate how telehealth can accentuate disparities in health equity among minority populations. In 2018, the Federal Trade Commission estimated that 35% of people living on tribal lands don’t have access to consistent internet. That’s a large portion of the U.S. population that does not have the opportunity to receive quality care from within their communities.

We all have a part to play in addressing health equity issues, and that includes creating better architecture and design choices of our software that will make access and usability better than ever. After all, Virtual Care isn’t a one-size-fits-all patient approach. 

If telehealth is the new front door for healthcare, then it must be open for everyone, everywhere. The alternative to telehealth isn’t in-person care. It’s no care at all. 

2. Telehealth Policy 101: Being in the Know

In order to transform the telehealth industry, it’s important to stay abreast of the policy environment that surrounds it. In 2019, there were 840,000 Medicare virtual visits. In 2020, that number soared to 53,000,000 virtual visits. The pandemic was of course a large force behind that massive increase, but so was the CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security) Act that passed on March 27, 2020, which eased several federal restrictions on telehealth. While the full list of telehealth-related measures can be seen here, below are some of the key changes to note:

  • Many federal government restrictions on the use of telemedicine have been lifted, including paying as much for a telemedicine visit as an in-person visit (for the duration of the public health emergency)
  • Medicare greatly expanded access to telehealth, including the allowance of all patients to use telehealth from their home, not just those in rural locations
  • Medicare significantly expanded telehealth services, including audio-only and emergency telephone services
  • The use of technology for telehealth services expanded to existing video conferencing players, allowing companies like Zoom, Skype and FaceTime to be part of the delivery package
  • The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) permitted physicians to prescribe controlled substances based on telehealth visits during the pandemic in accordance with state laws
  • Diagnoses from telehealth services will be included in risk adjustment in Medicare Advantage

3. Meeting the Needle Moving Forward

According to a recent survey conducted by GoodRX, 63% of patients said that going forward they would want to receive care in a hybrid delivery model. That’s an encouraging number of patients seeking the convenience and accessibility of Virtual Care within their individual health journeys. In that same poll, 70% of providers surveyed reported that telehealth improved patient continuity of care and 60% reported it improved patient adherence to medication.

That’s why eVisit is on a mission to continue putting providers and health systems at ease by ensuring their Virtual Care offerings are just as seamless, if not even more so, than in-person care.

4. Differentiating Telemedicine from a Virtual Care Delivery Platform

As telehealth resources ramp up to match continued demand in the New Year, it’s crucial we continue to look forward with an eye on ways to improve its future. That starts with differentiating traditional telehealth (video visits) from comprehensive Virtual Care delivery platforms. The former being a good interim patch during the pandemic but not a truly comprehensive solve, while the latter is a more robust platform that includes end-to-end, fully integrated solutions built into your native EHR and scheduling system, spanning the entire patient journey. eVisit’s enterprise virtual care delivery platform is designed to help health systems craft modern consumer experiences in care navigation, delivery, and management, while improving margins at scale with no sacrifice to quality. 

It’s all our responsibility as healthcare advocates to be the change we want to see in the industry. As we look ahead, we will continue using innovation and imagination to leave healthcare better than how we found it. 

Learn more about what eVisit is doing to transform telehealth into a virtual care delivery platform by scheduling a consult today.

eVisit Corporate
eVisit Corporate

The info you need, right in your inbox

Subscribe to the blog