Last week, Fierce Healthcare reported that the Joint Commission has decided to table the Telehealth standards that, in May, they had originally announced were in the works.
The primary focus of the standards was the portion of telehealth where care is provided direct from, and to, the patient. As The Center for Telehealth and e-Health Law reports, attorney Nathaniel Lacktman of Foley & Lardner said the standards would have "forced Joint Commission-accredited hospitals to obtain informed consent from patients prior to delivering care via telehealth. In addition, providers would have had to discuss with patients the 'type of modality that will be used' before providing care."As readers of this blog well know, iClickCare is all about using technology to help providers collaborate. This collaboration results in the best care for the patient, and the patient can be invited to join when desired and necessary. See our answer from our FAQs “Can I include my patient of family members in iClickCare?"
We're largely appreciative of the Joint Commission's dropping the standards. It's not that telehealth standards of any kind are out of the question. But the Joint Commission's proposed standards were troublesome because they were simultaneously narrow and too restrictive.
We believe that the portion of telehealth that is direct-to-patient is over emphasized in the telemedicine landscape. It's a tool with specific applications and potential because it doesn't allow a team of thoughtful providers to partner with a patient in asking the right questions about their own care. Instead, a "fix" is sought, and via technology, seemingly obtained.
As an architect friend of ours said recently, “Sometimes we come to a conclusion before we have defined the problem”. We all know that the patients who often get the worst care are physicians and nurses. Why? Because they make the diagnosis, and seek the treatment from an ultra-specialist, before the big picture is analyzed. They seek the tree and miss the forest. Similarly, direct-to-patient telehealth can risk the same challenges.
None of this has been addressed fully. Narrow standards applied to a isolated topic will do little to advance a broader view of technology and health and worse, stifle innovation and adoption.