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E-care discussed at aging committee meeting


By Rebecca Vesely
Posted: April 23, 2010 - 12:30 pm ET
Tags:

Widespread adoption of home health monitoring won't happen without changes to the payment system and expansion of affordable broadband services, experts said at a Senate hearing.

The Senate Special Committee on Aging took on the topic of e-care, the burgeoning field of remote health monitoring. New at-home technologies include blood pressure and glucose monitoring and devices that measure such factors as prescription drug intake and balance and coordination to prevent falls.

“I'm of the view that many of these new technologies will save Medicare money,” said Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), adding that e-care should be one of the CMS' top priorities.

Mohit Kaushal, a physician who is digital healthcare director at the Federal Communications Commission, said the nation's broadband infrastructure isn't adequate. Between 14 million and 20 million Americans, mostly in rural areas, don't have access to broadband services. Large disparities exist in the price of broadband, and federal support is not sufficient to boost deployment, Kaushal said. Overhauling the FCC's rural healthcare program is necessary to improve access, he said.

“It is imperative that hospitals and physician offices have adequate connectivity,” Kaushal said. “The greatest barrier is on the demand side. Providers bear the cost of implementation but not the benefit on the payment side.”

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