November 15, 2023
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) recently questioned medical professionals about telehealth services for Wyoming’s seniors on Medicare at a Senate Committee on Finance hearing.
Specifically, Senator Barrasso spoke about the outsourcing of previously direct patient services to telehealth services and the impacts of this on patients in Wyoming. He also discussed the technology systems required to provide telehealth and the benefits of remote patient monitoring for chronic care.
The Senate Committee on Finance’s Health Care subcommittee held the hearing titled, Ensuring Medicare Beneficiary Access: A Path to Telehealth Permanency, earlier this week.
On Outsourced Telehealth Services in Wyoming:
“I want to talk a little about telehealth in Wyoming. It’s an important access point for care. It really helps our Medicare beneficiaries receive specialty services.
“In 2021, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) reported that 29 percent of Medicare telehealth services in Wyoming were provided by an out of state provider.
“Which is of concern if you are in some where you actually need hands-on care. HHS stated the high rate of outsourcing was ‘likely reflecting shortage and availability of specialists…,’ which is exactly right.
“I am concerned about relying too heavily on telehealth. It’s important, it helps us but I worry about these issues.
“Given the challenges we face in Wyoming how are you dealing with it from the standpoint of workplace shortages?”
Click here to watch Sen. Barrasso’s remarks on outsourced telehealth.
On Systems Required to Provide Telehealth:
“Dr. Mehrotra, in your opening statement you talked about how five percent of physicians have closed their physical doors to become full-time telehealth providers.
“I believe there is real value as well in having telehealth, but also the direct hands-on patient care component.
“It’s interesting, having practiced orthopedic surgery for 24 years I feel like I can go back and do the surgery – I’m not sure I could do the computer work, the technical aspects.
“The latest estimates are that doctors now spend 20 percent of their time inputting patient information into electronic medical records. Our office did medical records before it was a thing – we wanted to be on top of things.
“In the Economist’s Annual Health Barometer, one of the greatest barriers they identified was that: ‘solutions are not always designed with the needs of clinicians and patients in mind.’
“I find this especially true of the increasingly complex and fragmented systems required to provide telehealth.
“What existing telehealth services do you think serve more as barriers rather than solutions?”
“If they are spending that much time wondering how to fill this out, it is time they are not in direct patient contact doing what they want to do. If they are still trying to get home to be with family, friends, or do other activities and not feel overwhelmed and burnt out – it’s a key part of it.”
Click here to watch Sen. Barrasso’s remarks on systems required for telehealth services.
On Treating Chronic Care Remotely:
“Dr. Wallace, you and I are both invested in improving patient care and outcomes.
“There’s 60 of us in the Senate who co-sponsored the bipartisan CONNECT for Health Act – Senator Schatz from Hawaii is the original sponsor. A number of us have co-sponsored.
“It addresses patient care and outcomes and allows for remote patient monitoring for people with chronic conditions.
“Remote patient monitoring is one of the most innovative and cost-effective solutions to chronic care management.
“As someone who specializes in the treatment of chronic conditions, can you discuss how using remote patient monitoring for your Medicare patients would impact your ability to treat them?
“If you have that kind of a decrease across the board of systolic pressure, you don’t know how many strokes you have prevented as well in the process, which is an added effect.”
Click here to watch Sen. Barrasso’s remarks on treating chronic care.