Stay ahead of developments in federal and state health care law, regulation and transactions with timely, expert news and analysis.
March 2 — The federal government needs to update HIPAA guidance on remote access to patient data, according to the leader of an app industry group.
Guidance from the Department of Health and Human Services covering remote use of patient health data was last updated in December 2006 and the first iPhone didn't become publicly available until June 2007, Morgan Reed, executive director of the ACT, The App Associationtold Bloomberg BNA after a March 2 House Science, Space, and Technology Subcommittee on Research and Technology hearing.
“Without new documentation that speaks to more modern uses, it’s difficult for app makers to understand how to implement HIPAA in an effective way for patients,” Reed said in a March 2 e-mail to Bloomberg BNA.
Rep. Suzanne Bonamici (D-Ore.) agreed about the need for new HIPAA guidance. “It's really time we update a lot of these things,” she said at the hearing.
The subcommittee convened the hearing to examine the development of apps and wearable technologies for monitoring, diagnosing and tracking disease and medical conditions. A number of barriers hinder some mobile health apps from being used more broadly. Those barriers include regulatory systems, data security and privacy, and reimbursement issues.
Even though regulatory and other barriers may hinder health app development, 50 percent of smartphone users are expected to have downloaded mobile health apps and the total mobile health market revenue is expected to reach $26 billion by 2017, the subcommittee said in a March 2 statement.
The subcommittee chairwoman, Barbara Comstock (R-Va.), said the rapid growth of mobile health technology is a reflection of the ingenuity of app designers. This new technology can and should open up a new revolution that makes everyone personally engaged and responsible for their health care, Comstock said.
In addition to calling for updated HIPAA guidance, Reed underscored the need for proper Medicare reimbursement for mobile health services.
Despite the demonstrated value remote patient monitoring technologies hold for “improving the American health system, statutory and regulatory constraints on Medicare reimbursement for health care professionals’ use of telehealth and remote patient monitoring technologies have long been a deterrent to advancement and adoption,” Reed said in written testimony.
Language in the Social Security Act has resulted in significant restrictions on telehealth services by adding odd and untenable requirements, such as originating site and geographic restrictions, Reed said. He added remote patient monitoring is unreasonably restrained by a Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ policy decision that bars direct coverage for the service.
“As a result, Medicare coverage for telehealth is startlingly deficient, while reimbursement for remote patient monitoring is non-existent and denies reasonable reimbursement for the monitoring of patient generated health data that should be leveraged to improve care outcomes,” Reed wrote.
The CMS's continued restrictions against paying for certain mobile health and patient monitoring services come as providers “must now shift from fee-for-service to value-based payments, and the resulting incentives favor outcomes more than procedures,” Reed said in his testimony.
“This transition significantly elevates the value of connected health data that comes from remote patient monitoring, chronic condition management, wearable sensors, and apps.”
To contact the reporter on this story: Michael D. Williamson in Washington at firstname.lastname@example.org
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Brent Bierman at email@example.com
Additional details about the hearing is at https://science.house.gov/legislation/hearings/research-and-technology-subcommittee-hearing-smart-health-empowering-future.
Reed's written testimony is at https://science.house.gov/sites/republicans.science.house.gov/files/documents/HHRG-114-SY15-WState-MReed-20160302.pdf.
The 2006 remote use guidance is at http://www.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/ocr/privacy/hipaa/administrative/securityrule/remoteuse.pdf.
All Bloomberg BNA treatises are available on standing order, which ensures you will always receive the most current edition of the book or supplement of the title you have ordered from Bloomberg BNA’s book division. As soon as a new supplement or edition is published (usually annually) for a title you’ve previously purchased and requested to be placed on standing order, we’ll ship it to you to review for 30 days without any obligation. During this period, you can either (a) honor the invoice and receive a 5% discount (in addition to any other discounts you may qualify for) off the then-current price of the update, plus shipping and handling or (b) return the book(s), in which case, your invoice will be cancelled upon receipt of the book(s). Call us for a prepaid UPS label for your return. It’s as simple and easy as that. Most importantly, standing orders mean you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you’re relying on. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.960.1220 or by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Put me on standing order at a 5% discount off list price of all future updates, in addition to any other discounts I may quality for. (Returnable within 30 days.)
Notify me when updates are available (No standing order will be created).
This Bloomberg BNA report is available on standing order, which ensures you will all receive the latest edition. This report is updated annually and we will send you the latest edition once it has been published. By signing up for standing order you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you need. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.372.1033, option 5, or by sending us an email to email@example.com.
Put me on standing order
Notify me when new releases are available (no standing order will be created)