Moderator: Karen S. Rheuban, M.D.
University of Virginia Health System
An open discussion followed the planning committee members’ remarks. Audience members were able to give comments and ask questions of the planning committee members and workshop participants. The following sections summarize the discussion session.
Data and Evidence
One participant talked about how to fast-track important studies in peer-reviewed journals. Another participant supported matched cohort group designs for research to prove the efficacy of telehealth. Another participant noted that telehealth needs to be integrated into the push for the adoption of electronic health records, creating meaningful use, and establishing health information exchanges. He stated that face-to-face patient encounters already involve the examination of several data sources, and the use of health information technology could allow for the inclusion of support mechanisms to help reduce medical errors and variation in care. He added that the sharing of data, in a secure and meaningful way, is improving the continuity of care, decreasing overuse (e.g., unnecessary tests), and increasing efficiency. He further added that telehealth and health information exchange need to become global efforts.
One participant remarked that the cost of gasoline may push consumers toward telehealth, especially if they have to travel long distances to receive health care services. Another participant added that telehealth technology is necessary to leverage solutions for reaching broader populations. He further added that in order to make any difference in health and health care, we need to change behaviors, so telehealth might be used for that as well.
One participant remarked that there was not enough discussion of the kind of workforce that is needed to support telehealth in rural areas—either new types of providers or retraining of current providers. The participant added that more discussion is needed about scope of practice, and how providers work together. Nesbitt noted the funding that HRSA provides for health professions training and suggested incentives could be created for