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Lawmakers reintroduce telemedicine measure

By Rachel Landen-ModernHealthcare.com, March 20, 2013 | Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and John Thune (R-S.D.) have re-introduced the Fostering Independence Through Technology Act—legislation designed to help lower the hospital readmissions rate in rural and underserved communities.

Under the proposed bill, the HHS secretary would create pilot projects to reward home health agencies with financial incentives for using remote patient monitoring. Rewards would be based on meeting specific targets related to historic Medicare spending and health outcomes.

“By expanding the use of innovative home care technology, this legislation will make healthcare more efficient and will allow seniors to stay in their homes longer without jeopardizing their health, safety or access to healthcare professionals,” Klobuchar said in a news release.

The use of remote communication technologies for healthcare allows patients to be more closely monitored so that any possible complications can be resolved before resulting in a hospital readmission.

“This innovative RPM technology has the ability to revolutionize patient care and dramatically reduce the amount of money Medicare spends on hospital readmissions each year,” Thune said in the release.

Currently, about 20% of Medicare patients are re-hospitalized for preventable problems within 30 days of discharge, and hospitals are subject to payment penalties for these readmissions. These penalties, coupled with the potential to earn incentives, should provide greater motivation for healthcare facilities to utilize RPM technology in treating the nearly 3.5 million patients served by Medicare certified home health providers each year.

The bill is structured to be a neutral budget item for the government, as no incentive payments will be paid unless participants have documented savings.

Read more: Lawmakers reintroduce telemedicine measure | Modern Healthcare http://www.modernhealthcare.com/article/20130320/NEWS/303209955#ixzz2O8AfCAwt

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