July 22, 2020
ATA Policy Principles
Health. Virtually. Everywhere.
The policy principles of the ATA are rooted in its vision: we promote a healthcare system where people have access to safe, effective and appropriate care when and where they need it, while enabling clinicians to do more good for more people. To address global challenges driven by rising healthcare costs, an aging population, variation in quality and outcomes, and an inadequate number of clinicians, the ATA advocates using technology to reimagine care and supports policy that ensures all people receive care where and when they need it.
To effectively leverage and expand telehealth, digital health, and virtual care technologies, federal and state health policy must be technology, modality, and site-neutral.
- Ensure Patient Choice, Access, and Satisfaction. The location of the patient receiving services or the clinician providing them should not be arbitrarily limited by geography and patients should be able to receive high-quality telehealth services anywhere, including the home.
- Enhance Provider Autonomy. Telehealth plays an important role in delivering care across the continuum. Federal and state policy should treat healthcare services delivered remotely no differently than services provided in-person. The modality used to deliver care should be determined by the clinician, in consultation with the patient, and should meet the same standard of care as services provided in person. Telehealth should not be limited to any specific technology provided that it is safe, effective, appropriate, and able to be fully integrated into clinical workflows.
- Expand Reimbursement to Incentivize 21st Century Virtual Care. Federal and state health programs including Medicare and Medicaid should broadly cover and reimburse for all forms of telehealth. Private payers should compensate healthcare providers for delivering remote care. At the same time, a provider and healthcare plan should have the ability to contractually agree to reimbursement rates for telehealth services based on market conditions and value-based payment models. All payers should ensure transparency and clarity when implementing reimbursement policy to reduce burden on healthcare providers.
- Enable Healthcare Delivery Across State Lines. Adoption of interstate licensure compacts, flexibility for professional second opinions, and other related licensure portability policies ensure that clinicians can treat patients safely across state lines. Policy barriers that impose undue administrative burden or restrictions that do not promote patient access, continuity of care, and quality medical services must be avoided. State and federal policy should ensure efficient licensure during public health emergencies.
- Ensure Access to Non-Physician Providers. Healthcare providers at all levels must be able to participate effectively across care teams and leverage telehealth to reach patients where they are. Artificial regulatory barriers on non-physician healthcare providers that do not contribute to quality, patient safety, or improved outcomes are unnecessary impediments to expanding the healthcare workforce, ensuring access to care, and reducing healthcare costs.
- Expand Access for Underserved and At-risk Populations. Underserved rural and urban communities, tribal nations, and the uninsured must equally benefit from telehealth and digital health services. Health disparities should be addressed and reflected in state and federal health programs and policy makers must support robust investment in telehealth infrastructure, including broadband, to ensure universal access for the benefit of all communities.
- Support Seniors and Expand “Aging in Place”. State and federal policy should ensure seniors have access to high-quality, affordable virtual care wherever they reside. Age-friendly healthcare policy should ensure autonomy and expanded access to seniors and caregivers while ensuring continuity of care.
- Protect Patient Privacy and Mitigate Cybersecurity Risks. Patient privacy, and the protection of patient data, are a prerequisite for connected care. State and federal regulatory schemes should allow for innovation and support the advancement of technology-assisted care; however, telehealth and virtual care platforms, systems, and devices should be required to mitigate cybersecurity risks and provide for patient safety and confidentiality.
- Ensure Program Integrity. Public and private payers and healthcare providers must ensure guardrails are in place to protect patients and ensure program integrity of virtual care programs. Federal and state policies should leverage technology to optimize program integrity measures and prevent fraud and abuse without providers being required to see patients in person.
Adopted by the ATA Policy Council: May 2020
Approved by the ATA Board: July 2020