Powerhouse DC lobbying for telehealth, telemedicine

[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/gimlet-eye.jpg” thumb_width=”150″ /]The Gimlet Eye observes from a houseboat anchored at a remote Pacific island, with coconuts and occasional internet to Editor Donna.

Telehealth and telemedicine have reached a US milestone of sorts: the formation of a Washington, DC-based ‘advocacy’ (a/k/a lobbying) group constituted as a business non-profit. The Alliance for Connected Care is headed by three former Senators (two of whom were ‘amigos’) from both sides of the aisle and backed by a board including the expected (giants Verizon, WellPoint, CVS Caremark, Walgreens)–and the surprising (much smaller remote consult provider Teladoc and HealthSpot, the developer of the HealthSpot Station kiosk–hmmm, must be a fair chunk of their marketing budgets there) flanked by six well known ‘associate members’ including Cardinal Health and Care Innovations (another hmmm). There’s also a hefty ‘advisory board‘ including the American Heart Association and the NAHC (home care). The leadership team members are all members of major Washington law/lobbying firms. Tom Daschle is recognized as one of the most influential former Senators in town via DLA Piper, though himself not a registered lobbyist (OpenSecrets.org). Trent Lott and John Breaux hung out their own shingle and were recently bought by mega-lobbyist Patton Boggs. To put a fine point on it, more high-powered one does not get. The Eye sees that the time is prime for the Big Influence and…

What the Eye sees is Big Financial Stakes: Private insurers are required to cover telehealth in 20 states, as does Medicaid in most. The VA is a major user. But the great big trough of Medicare is new territory; covering 16 percent of the population, the use of telemedicine and telehealth is limited to certain geographic areas. (MedCityNews) This marks the infamous tipping point: the clarion call to ‘build significant and high-level support for Connected Care among leaders in Congress and the Administration’, ‘enable more telehealth to support new models of care’ and ‘establish a non-binding, standardized definition of Connected Care through federal level multi stakeholder-input process’ (whew!) Big companies want in, insurers want reimbursement, and they want it from somewhere as well. Toto, we’re not in the Kansas of Small anymore with ‘connected health’–we are now in the Oz of Big Money and Power Players. Alliance release (Oddly the website looks preliminary despite the big announcement and backing.)

More on this strategy: It’s called ‘soft lobbying’ and it is the latest thing in the Influence Wars. The Alliance for Connected Care is a 501(c)6 non-profit, similar to a business league like the Chamber of Commerce, and this has become a popular tactic. It’s also a less regulated, less transparent way to shape coverage, public opinion and exert influence on legislators. See this well-timed examination from the Washington Post on the corn syrup versus table sugar wars. ‘Soft lobbying’ war between sugar, corn syrup shows new tactics in Washington influence

HealthSpot Station kiosks add telepharmacy

[grow_thumb image=”http://telecareaware.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/booth-with_new_attendant.jpg” thumb_width=”180″ /]’Virtual consult’/staffed kiosk HealthSpot Station [TTA 29 Oct], most recently adding behavioral health EHR Netsmart and telemedicine provider Teladoc [TTA 5 Sept], as well as several health system providers, is expanding into telepharmacy through a strategic alliance with Canada-based MedAvail. MedAvail’s kiosks fill prescriptions in clinics, hospitals and office locations, including live assistance from a pharmacist, though the website video doesn’t explain how drugs not in stock in the kiosk are handled. What’s notable? Large kiosks are moving towards full-scope onsite clinics. HealthSpot in its three years of existence has quietly accumulated over $15 million in funding, $10 million in 2013 alone–a fact that is not included in Rock Health’s Digital Health 2013 report, unless this Editor overlooked it. Is this not digital health delivered? Correct me if I’m wrong. HealthSpot/MedAvail press release. Also see Editor Charles’ post on ‘The Future of Doctors’ below for more on this trend and its consequences.

Virtual consulter Teladoc acquires Consult A Doctor

Dallas, Texas-based telemedicine provider Teladoc yesterday announced their acquisition of Miami Beach, Florida-based Consult A Doctor.  Price was not disclosed nor the future of management and staff at Consult A Doctor. The release portrays the acquisition of small Consult A Doctor (below $1 million in sales, D&B) as reinforcing Teladoc’s 6 million member customer base and an estimated 125,000 annual consults with individuals and employees of small- to medium-size businesses. Teladoc is VC backed: Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers (2011) with $18.6 million; $9 million (2009) by HLM Venture Partners, Cardinal Health and Trident Capital. It offers internal medicine, (more…)