A new accreditation program could become the seal of quality for the increasingly crowded telemedicine space, and many of the industry’s biggest names are lining up to earn the stamp of approval.
ClearHealth Quality Institute, a Maryland-based healthcare accrediting organization, has announced its first set of accreditations for telemedicine providers. Six telemedicine organizations have met the CHQI’s standards for accreditation, and the institute says several more providers are working through the process.
Lauren Neuvel, the director of sales and marketing at CHQI, said the accreditation process fills in gaps left by the regulatory infrastructure.
“As a result of a number of factors, the effectiveness of regulations governing healthcare today — especially in emerging technologies such as telemedicine — is inherently limited,” she told Healthcare Analytics News™. “This is where the value of accreditation can be demonstrated.”
The accreditation includes three modules: consumer-to-provider, provider-to-consumer and provider-to-provider (such as specialty consults). Telemedicine organizations seeking accreditation must complete a narrative application, provide documentation and then demonstrate that they meet the accreditation criteria. The activity is collaborative, designed to allow telemedicine providers to benefit from feedback as they go through the process.
The standards of the accreditation program cover many areas, including regulatory compliance, professional oversight, patient safety and satisfaction, workflow management, clinical workflows and risk management.
Right now, CHQI is the only accrediting agency backed by the American Telemedicine Association. (But other telemedicine accreditation programs, like one run by URAC, exist.)
“In the short time since we launched the program (spring 2018), not only have we been able to help established telemedicine programs improve their operations and patient outcomes,” Neuvel said, “we’ve seen many organizations use our Standards and Guide document as best practices to help guide the development of their telemedicine programs.”
The first wave of accredited telemedicine providers includes a couple of large health systems and a number of telemedicine startups. The list features AliCare Medical Management, Amwell, CHRISTUS Good Shepherd Health System of Texas, InTouch Health and UC San Diego Health.
“By completing CHQI Telemedicine Accreditation Program’s application and demonstration process, these companies took part in a substantive assessment process and received meaningful, constructive feedback to improve operations,” Neuvel said.
Other big-name telemedicine providers, including Doctor on Demand, MDLive and innovaTel, are currently working their way through the accreditation process, CHQI said.
Neuvel said she and her colleagues have been “delighted” at the reception their accreditation program has received from the industry.
“[B]ut we cannot say that we’re surprised,” she said. “Until the launch of the CHQI Telemedicine Accreditation Program, the telehealth industry has not had an easy-to-identify confirmation of quality from an independent third-party organization.”
CHQI launched just last year. In the coming months, the organization plans to expand its telemedicine accreditation program by adding remote patient monitoring and telemedicine outcomes modules. The institute also has a Mental Health Parity Accreditation program.
“The CHQI Telemedicine Standards Committee and supporting workgroups are committed to regularly fine-tuning and updating the existing Telemedicine Accreditation Program Standards as healthcare technology, regulations and measurement tools evolve,” Alexis Gilroy, a partner at Jones Day and the chair of the CHQI Telemedicine Standards Committee, said in a press release.