The Consumer Technology Association, an industry group representing more than 2,200 consumer technology companies, is recommending federal and state policy changes to enable greater use of technology in pandemic preparedness and ensure equal access to digital health, according to a news release on Wednesday.
Expanded broadband coverage, permanent Medicare telehealth waivers and flexibilities, a general federal data privacy law and industry standards for digital health are essential for improving pandemic preparedness, the CTA said. The federal government should also create a nationwide early warning system to uncover disease hotspots using digital technologies, according to the group.
“The pandemic demonstrated the undeniable value of innovation and tech in the face of a health crisis,” CTA CEO Gary Shapiro said in a news release.
The CTA also wants federal and state governments to require hospitals and health systems to evaluate their patients’ access and ability to use digital services, as well as training, education and support to help providers and patients take advantage of digital health products and services, the news release said. The association also wants insurers to use digital health tools to monitor, manage and treat clinical conditions.
“American lawmakers have an unprecedented opportunity to learn from this crisis and ensure we’re providing every American access to quality care in the digital age,” Shapiro said in a news release.
Digital health companies, health systems, medical device makers, insurers, think tanks and professional societies helped develop the recommendations, including heavy hitters like AHIP, Microsoft, Northwell Health and SSM Health.
Consumers flocked to telehealth and other digital health solutions in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, leading to a wave of new investment, even as people returned to in-office visits with traditional providers. Most experts anticipate people will use those technologies more in the future than they did before the pandemic. But the pace of adoption and innovation could slow down unless lawmakers and regulators embrace policies that allow new products and services to thrive.
Venture capitalists invested $23 billion in digital health during the first nine months of 2021, according to data from Digital Health Business & Technology. It’s a record pace, with a 108% increase over the same period last year.