The U.S. Senate today passed the Expanding Capacity for Health Outcomes (ECHO) Act, which is legislation that aims to increase access to healthcare in rural areas.
The Senate passed the bill by a vote of 97-0. Introduced by U.S. Senators Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) and Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), the bill, S. 2873, proposes to expand New Mexico’s Project ECHO as a national model for using telehealth for rural care.
Health information technology is a significant tool that drives the manner in which hospitals, health systems and payers do business today, from both a marketplace and regulatory perspective. Federal rules and regulations mandate that providers comply with a host of billing, patient privacy/safety and Meaningful Use standards. For instance, with the recent implementation of the ICD-10 diagnostic codes, providers allocated tremendous financial and personnel resources to ensure regulatory compliance; electronic health record (EHR) interoperability facilitates the efficient flow of communication and information updates vital to a patient’s health; health IT and new digital apps have transformed the manner in which providers deliver care to patients; and health IT plays a vital role in advancing an organization’s revenue cycle management processes to reach financial and business goals.
The industry’s growing interest in telehealth applications, in many ways, epitomizes a “spread the wealth” philosophy for healthcare. That’s the way Kevin Biese, M.D. sees it.