Cisco, American Well collaborate to expand telehealth reach

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American Well and Cisco Systems are collaborating to extend care delivery from hospitals and health systems into the homes of elderly patients.

The goal of the initiative could ultimately result in the conversion of in-home television sets into a telehealth consultation.

“Telehealth is quickly becoming an effective way for getting access to urgent care,” says Roy Schoenberg, MD, CEO at American Well, a telehealth vendor. “While this revolution continues, a new breed of telehealth is emerging. This one will go the other way, empowering doctors and nurses to use telehealth technology to knock on our door and visit us at home regularly.”

More telehealth visits are expected to reduce the need for hospital admission or a facility stay, particularly in light of a CMS decision to expand telehealth access and coverage in Medicare Advantage plans.

Under the decision and resulting from provisions of the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018, Medicare Advantage members, comprising about 20 million Medicare beneficiaries, will have more access to telehealth services, beginning in January.

Medicare’s deeper moves into telehealth will better serve the elder population who often have been severely limited in their access to traditional medical care, says Amy Change, a senior vice president and general manager for Cisco. “Technology and infrastructure will help collapse the space between home and medical professionals so our senior population can receive the care they deserve,” she adds.

Further, Medicare Advantage plans will have more flexibility than is currently available in how they pay for coverage of telehealth benefits to meet the needs of enrollees. Importantly, a rule in the budget act could increase access to telehealth in more parts of the nation, urban or rural, according to Medicare.

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