Trump’s decision on kidney disease may push telehealth, mhealth adoption

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President Donald Trump’s executive order targeting at new methods for detecting and treating kidney disease, could give more opportunities for those using telehealth and mHealth.

The executive order was signed on July 10 and it aims to change how the nation’s healthcare system treats end-stage renal disease, and the way providers are reimbursed for that care. It opens the door to home-based dialysis programs that use remote patient monitoring technology for care management and transplant programs that use telehealth to improve organ procurement and post-operative recovery.

Officials said that the goal is to incentivize the healthcare industry to improve outcomes instead of simply paying them for the services provided. Health and Human Services Secretary, Alex Azar mentioned that there may be no better example than kidney care of how government domination of healthcare can sideline patients, discourage innovation from providers, distort payment incentives, and focus only on paying for treating sickness, rather than preventing disease and supporting health.

He said that for decades, across all of American healthcare, especially kidney care, the focus has been on paying for procedures rather than paying for good outcomes. This has to be changed. Now, providers will be paid for better health outcomes, rather than procedures and payment will be made for health, rather than simply paying once people are already sick.

The executive order mentions a mandatory payment model known as ESRD Treatment Choices, as put by Azar will give about half of all dialysis providers new incentives to encourage dialysis at home.

This could include telemedicine platforms that help providers to keep track of their patients at home, such as in Remote Patient Monitoring system that allow to relay vital signs and other data from the home to the care provider. It also allows for on-demand communication and care management.

Chronic kidney disease affects roughly 30 million Americans, or 15 percent of the adult population. According to the National Kidney Foundation, telemedicine is a promising alternative to in-person care, which is mostly delivered in doctor’s office or dialysis clinic. Clinicians can remotely monitor a patient’s blood pressure or other vital signs, as well as offer resources for medication adherence and diet plans.

Now, nephrologists and nephrology nurses can coordinate care online with a patient’s primary care provider and interact at home with patients undergoing hemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis, offering on-demand care between regularly scheduled office visits.