HHS Releases Plan To Align Regulations With Telehealth, IT Programs

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HHS has published a plan to update its regulations to account for new technologies such as telehealth tools and to better align federal health IT incentive programs, Federal Computer Week reports.

Background

The plan is the department's response to President Obama's executive order calling for agencies to review their regulations to improve efficiency.

Along with other federal agencies, HHS finalized its regulatory reform plan in August after submitting preliminary plans in May.

Details of the Plan

One of the regulatory changes included in the plan would allow a credentialed health care provider to offer telehealth services to a remote Medicare beneficiary without needing to be credentialed at the remote hospital. The two hospitals would need to have a written telehealth agreement in place.

HHS' plan also calls for aligning the reporting criteria for the meaningful use program with HHS' electronic prescribing program. Under the 2009 federal economic stimulus package, health care providers who demonstrate meaningful use of certified electronic health record systems can qualify for Medicare and Medicaid incentive payments.

HHS officials said the change aims to reduce paperwork and reporting burdens for health care providers.

The plan also calls for:

  • FDA to review whether new technologies would be more effective at reducing medication errors than the agency's existing requirement that drug labels include bar codes; and
  • FDA and the Agency on Children and Families to increase their use of electronic applications such as digital drug package inserts and electronic submission of clinical trial data (Lipowicz, Federal Computer Week, 9/8).

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