More state laws back telehealth, but many stop short of mandates

From Healthcare Dive:

  • A total of 42 states and Washington, D.C. have passed laws encouraging health insurance plans to cover telehealth services, although the specific provisions in the laws vary, according to a new report from law firm Foley & Lardner.
  • Far fewer states — just 16 — address reimbursement specifically. Of those, ten states have payment parity requiring health insurers pay the same rates for virtual and in-person services, while the remainder set a rate ceiling, floor or outline instructions for negotiating payment rates.
  • When it comes to regulating specific virtual services, 24 states mandate coverage for store-and-forward telehealth, which involves gathering information about a patient and transmitting it to another site typically for consultation with a specialist. Meanwhile, 13 states mandate coverage for remote patient monitoring.

Care collaboration tech helps hospital reduce unnecessary psychiatric ED visits by 78%

From Healthcare IT News:

“By contacting the right case manager when a behavioral health patient presents at the ED, coordinating with case managers, and transitioning the patient to appropriate care in an outpatient setting, we’ve been able to reduce the number of visits from these patients in the ED,” Patel reported.

The program still is growing and taking on new use-cases, but the results the hospital has seen so far are promising.


Rural U.S. sees slower decline in childhood deaths

From Reuters:

Although mortality rates among U.S. infants, children and teens have declined overall in the last two decades, rural kids still face higher odds of death than urban kids, researchers say.

Accidents and suicide are the leading causes of child deaths in rural areas, and both are greater risks for rural than for urban kids, researchers report in a special issue of Health Affairs devoted to health in the rural U.S.

America’s rural hospital crisis becomes major 2020 campaign issue

From Fox News:

….times have changed since Miller’s accident a decade ago, with rural hospitals now shuttering at a rapid clip. Since 2010, more than 100 rural hospitals have closed, with another 430 at risk of shutting their doors, according to the National Bureau of Economic Research. This poses a huge challenge — and danger — for the 20 percent of the population living in rural America.

As the crisis worsens, it has started to generate increased attention on the campaign trail. Presidential candidates are now talking about the rural hospital shortage on a regular basis, unlike past cycles, as they court voters in critical states like Iowa where the thinning medical infrastructure is an everyday reality.

“Rural health just simply has not been a topic in presidential debates and campaigns in the past,” said Alan Morgan, CEO of the National Rural Health Association (NRHA). “We’re seeing a unique focus on rural health … this presidential campaign that we haven’t seen in the last 20 to 30 years … It’s surfacing the issue as a key presidential campaign topic as we move forward.”

The urban-rural health divide is costing lives

From Axios:

The health disparities between urban and rural areas aren’t getting any better, new studies published in Health Affairs confirm.

The big picture: Rural areas fell short of every benchmark for improvement in seven major causes of death, according to one study — and others suggest that the situation may never get better for the 62 million Americans who live in rural parts of the country.

Rural hospital acquisitions may reduce patient services

From Reuters:

Although hospitals can improve financially when they join larger health systems, the merger may also reduce access to services for patients in rural areas, according to a new study.

After an affiliation, rural hospitals are more likely to lose onsite imaging and obstetric and primary care services, researchers report in a special issue of the journal Health Affairs devoted to rural health issues in the United States.

British hiker survives six-hour cardiac arrest in ‘exceptional’ case: Spanish doctor

From Reuters:

A 34-year-old British hiker was revived in Spain after a six-hour cardiac arrest brought on by severe hypothermia, with the low mountain temperatures that made her ill also helping to save her life in what a doctor described as an “exceptional case”.

Audrey Mash’s ordeal began on Nov. 3 when she and her husband were out hiking in the Catalan Pyrenees. As the weather took a turn for the worse, Mash, who lives in Barcelona, began experiencing trouble speaking and moving.

The doctors at Barcelona’s Vall d’Hebron Hospital said she had suffered the longest documented cardiac arrest in Spain. “It’s an exceptional case in the world,” doctor Eduard Argudo told reporters on Thursday.