Prior to taking office on January 20, the Biden-Harris Administration made it clear America must take new and drastic action to build the American economy back better. CHI believes that this drastic action must include improving and modernizing the American healthcare system and sent a memo of recommendations to the incoming administration.

While the most immediate action is needed to defeat COVID-19 and overcome the turbulent economic environment created by the public health emergency (PHE), further steps to permanently progress the American healthcare system should also be prioritized, with a focus on eliminating inequities that afflict our system today.

CHI noted its support for the proactive efforts to tackle the pandemic through the formation of a COVID-19 task force and strongly supports the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) in taking all necessary measures to flatten the infection curve and defeat COVID-19 using the most innovative and effective solutions available. Specifically, CHI urged the Biden-Harris administration, supported by the task force’s recommendations, to support and elevate the use of internet connected digital health technologies, including telehealth, remote physiologic monitoring (RPM), and AI, among other modalities. Responsible use of such technologies will facilitate more efficient care over safe distances.

CHI shares the Biden-Harris administration’s priority for new congressional action to provide relief from damage caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. As part of this negotiated effort, Congress should provide permanent policy changes that will enable connected healthcare tools to defeat the current pandemic and, once it is over, modernize American healthcare laws to reflect the value of these tools to assure Americans support of these tools will continue. Moreover, Congress should prioritize providing Americans with infrastructure that supports high-speed broadband capabilities that will enable digital health tools. While congressional efforts continue, it will be critical that the HHS Secretary continue take all measures necessary to address to ongoing PHE in order to provide allowances for the use of the connected health technology essential to overcoming COVID-19.

During this crisis, support for the use of digital health tools expanded, and for many they became a primary means of COVID-19 prevention, diagnosis, and treatment across America while helping adhere to social distancing guidelines. Under the Biden-Harris administration, PHE allowances must enable the American healthcare system to better utilize digital health technologies to address the COVID-19 pandemic. Furthermore, the Biden-Harris administration should leverage every opportunity for permanent agency- level policy changes that will enable the responsible deployment and use of innovative digital health technologies to the benefit of every American patient.

There are numerous immediate steps that can provide much needed support for connected health tools in addressing COVID-19 and modernizing the healthcare system. This task force should examine whether permanent extension of any of the allowances made under the PHE can occur through agency authority rather than new congressional action. It is critical that the Biden-Harris HHS place the highest priority on leveraging new digital health technologies and capabilities to modernize the American healthcare system and improve care for all. We strongly encourage the launch of a new HHS effort, in collaboration with all impacted stakeholders, to modernize and improve the American healthcare system through the responsible uptake of digital health technologies, including through:

  • Providing new positive incentives to both develop and use digital health technologies throughout the care continuum, including through new modernization efforts of HHS’ regulatory regime, with a focus on reducing disparities in healthcare;

  • The collection and sharing of evidence demonstrating how digital health innovations improve care and reduce costs to inform policymaking decisions at all levels of government; and

  • A public education campaign to advance awareness of patients’ rights and opportunities with respect to digital health tools.

As a prime example, many of the policy issues raised by the use of AI require consideration of its impact on a wide range of stakeholders. The cultural, workforce training and education, data access, and technology-related changes will require strong guidance and coordination across a number of venues. Given the significant role of the government in the regulation, delivery, and payment of healthcare, as well as its role as steward of significant amounts of patient data, a federal healthcare AI strategy incorporating guidance on the issues below will be vital to achieving the promise that AI offers to patients and the healthcare sector. It is critical that U.S. policymakers collaborate with provider organizations, other civil society organizations, and private sector stakeholders to address AI’s potential in healthcare.

Connected health tools will strongly support the Biden-Harris administration’s efforts to make rapid progress in combatting the pandemic. In a separate memo, CHI detailed many of the actions the new administration can, and should, take during the next Presidential term (2021-2025). To read the full text of the memo, click here.