March 17, 2014 | Diana Manos, Senior Editor

WASHINGTON – The Telecommunications Industry Association would like Congress to stay aware of how useful remote patient monitoring can be when it comes to containing healthcare costs.

For example, cites TiA, remote patient monitoring – just one aspect of telehealth services – is expected to save $36 billion globally by 2018, with North America accounting for slightly more than three-quarters of these savings, according to one study.

In its March 7 comments to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, TIA urged CMS to allow Medicare Advantage Organizations to use remote monitoring technologies in contract year 2015 as a mandatory supplemental benefit, and where possible expand upon those benefits.

“We strongly believe that including remote monitoring solutions as a mandatory supplemental benefit will serve as a significant step toward modernizing the delivery of care by extending beyond the walls of the hospital room,” TIA officials wrote.

TIA is a long-time supporter of enhanced telehealth and remote monitoring services, the association said, “and we believe that remote connectivity has become an essential part of 21st century medical care.”

According to TIA, telehealth services enable the transmission of vital signs as part of care plans for chronic disease patients; electronic health records; the transmission of important medical device data, text and images for specialist diagnoses such as X-rays, MRIs, and CAT scans; video conferencing for telemedicine or training; and even timely access to emergency medical providers to save lives.

“These benefits are especially important for rural areas where telemedicine consultations with specialists such as pediatric critical-care physicians have been shown to improve the quality of care for seriously ill and injured children treated in rural emergency rooms,” TIA wrote. “In addition to benefits most directly enhanced by telehealth services, there are other residual benefits to our society by decreasing the cost of the American healthcare system.”


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