Health Subcommittee Explores How 21st Century Technology Can Improve Health Care and Help Patients

Committee Seeking Ideas for How Technology Can Help Reduce Costs, Improve Quality, and Increase Access

WASHINGTON, DC – The House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health today held a hearing, “Telehealth to Digital Medicine: How 21st Century Technology Can Benefit Patients,” to explore how advances in technology can be harnessed to advance our nation’s health care system and help more patients. Subcommittee Chairman Joe Pitts (R-PA) and Ranking Member Frank Pallone (D-NJ) also announced that the subcommittee is seeking input and feedback in this effort, calling for all ideas to be sent to: telemedicineideas2014@mail.house.gov. The deadline for submissions is June 16, 2014.

Announcing the effort, Pitts commented, “We will be looking for specific policy and legislative ideas on how the federal government can support technology adoption in our health care programs for the express and explicit purpose of reducing costs and increasing the overall quality and efficiency of the programs. We are also looking for ways in which the federal government currently inhibits the use or adoption of such technologies by all players in the health care system – be they insurer, provider, or patient. The more specific and targeted the policy, the greater chance it will hold for Congressional support down the line.”

Pallone added, “Telemedicine has the potential to serve a large portion of the United States by expanding the reach of medical resources while reducing cost and increasing quality. Our committee is in a unique position to help move our country’s health care system into the 21st century, and I am glad that we are taking this opportunity to come together to discuss how to expand access to these services for all Americans.  Telemedicine holds great promise and I am eager to gain further input from stakeholders and the public about how we can encourage and support this innovative approach to improving health care.”

Full committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) also explained, “In support of that effort, there are a number of questions that need to be answered: Which technologies hold promise for improving the quality and delivery of health care in this country? What role, if any, exists for the federal government in supporting such technologies? How can Congress help foster and realize the promise of 21st century technologies to improve the lives of Americans? This will be a priority of the Committee on Energy and Commerce over the next few years as we work towards fostering innovation that will lead to more treatments and cures for issues related to personal illness and the overall delivery of health care. The topics discussed today will certainly be a vital part of the21st Century Cures initiative that was unveiled yesterday.”

During the hearing, Dr. Rashid Bashshur, Executive Director for eHealth at the University of Michigan Health System testified on the significant promise of telemedicine. Dr. Bashshur offered, “Telemedicine has the potential for transforming the current system of healthcare by creating seamless and ubiquitous healthcare with continuous care management in integrated systems with empowered patients as partners in every phase of care.”

Dr. Tom Beeman, President and Chief Executive Officer echoed, “Leveraging innovative technologies to restructure care delivery by linking care-teams and providers with engaged patients to manage individuals and populations more effectively within and outside of traditional encounter based care. The use of digital medicine technologies expands our patients’ synchronous and asynchronous access to health information and care team decisions.”

Gary Chard, Delaware State Director at the Parkinson’s Action Network discussed the potential benefit for patients, stating, “For the Parkinson’s community, telehealth has the potential to be an extremely useful tool in providing greater access to specialists, such as neurologists or movement disorder specialists.”

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