Conference Spotlight: EDGE 2021 and HHCN Home Care Conference

This week, two major U.S. cities played host to in-depth conversations about digital health: the American Telemedicine Association’s (ATA) policy-focused EDGE 2021 conference was held in Washington, D.C. and the Home Health Care News Home Care Conference was held in Chicago.

As far as outtakes, two consistent themes were at the forefront: 1) in post-pandemic healthcare, the home will become the epicenter of care, and 2) where reimbursement was once the primary story in advancing remote care, a main focal point is now around access and equity.  

At the EDGE of a Pandemic: How to Move Forward

For three days this week, panelists, experts and members of Congress explored what healthcare looks like in a post-pandemic world – and how we can address the major issues uncovered by the pandemic – including how increased access to telehealth also shed light on the places we need to improve from a healthcare standpoint. And deep explorations around healthcare equity, and the role of technology in getting us closer to achieving it.

“[It was] great to speak with Eric Hargan, former Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), at the American Telemedicine Association’s ATA EDGE2021 Policy Conference this week,” posted Geeta Nayyar, SVP, Chief Medica Officer at Salesforce. “It’s imperative we talk about telemedicine and focus on finding solutions that increase access, availability, and improve care. As we approach a full two years under a public health emergency, conversations like this are more important than ever. Hybrid care is the future.” 

To gain insight into action on the conference floor, our Vital Insights podcast crew attended the conference, to record a few of the voices focused on finding solutions and creating a path forward. We look forward to sharing more from attendees about their thoughts on how we can change the way we care for patients through technology solutions, with a particular bent on how to do that at federal and state levels.

“The conversation at EDGE was really around ‘what do we do now,’” said Ann Mond Johnson, CEO of the ATA, in her conversation with Vital Insights. “We expect that there may not be a resolution in the near future with the waivers [related to telehealth and the COVID-19 public health crisis] and so this is really the time for conversation, discussion and action planning around how we can advance those initiatives legislatively moving forward.”

Home Health Care News Delves into Home Care

The other conference that happened this week – the Home Health Care News (HHCN) Home Conference – took a deep dive into what in-home care could look like in the future, with an emphasis around infrastructure and public policy support.

As a snapshot into what that could look like, our Vital Insights team sat down to talk with HHCN editor Bob Holly to hear more about his coverage of the Choose Home Care Act of 2021, which according to him is now at a critical point.

“Beginning [in November], the Partnership for Quality Home Healthcare (PQHH) and its provider members have been holding virtual meetings with key Senate and House lawmakers, along with their staffers,” wrote Bob, in a recent article. “The goal of the meetings, which will continue into early December, is to solidify bipartisan support so Choose Home can attach itself to a future legislative package when the time comes.”

According to the National Association of Home Care & Hospice, the Choose Home Care Act “is a landmark piece of legislation. If enacted, it would enable eligible Medicare patients to receive extended care services as an add-on to the existing Medicare Home Health benefit for 30 days post-discharge. This legislation would help seriously ill individuals recover safely at home, while promoting significant Medicare savings—up to an estimated $247 million annually— by offering nursing home level services in the home setting instead of in a skilled nursing facility or other institutional settings.”

You can listen to our first interview with Bob on the subject of Choose Home in August, and join us next week when we share his vantage point on where Choose Home sits today – and what the path forward looks like.

The Future Looks Bright

Despite the sense of uncertainty fueled around to the newest Omnicron variant of COVID-19, both conferences held an overwhelming sense of hopefulness around the work that is happening in digital health to advance healthcare access and equity – and a sense of resolution around the work that is yet to be done.

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