Welcome to the WBD News Flash, your weekly highlight of HR benefits and healthcare news. Weekly, we will provide you with the top trending industry news stories in healthcare, human resources, legislation, benefits technology and administration, and more. Make the WBD News Flash your go to reference for current events!

New Virtual COVID-19 Monitoring Launches in Ohio

A new COVID-19 monitoring tool is now available for healthcare systems across the United States. According to Crain’s, electronic health record vendor Epic has worked with Cleveland Clinic to develop a tool to monitor symptoms in suspected and confirmed COVID-19 patients without admitting them to a hospital. The technology was designed, built, and launched in just ten days.

With many COVID-19 cases, patients can experience just mild symptoms which don’t require hospitalization, but sudden onset of severe symptoms can cause rapid deterioration of a patient’s health. With the new home monitoring system, patients are able to interact with the tool. Worsening symptoms trigger an alert to health professionals, who can then assess the situation.

Epic says that the program, currently in use by Cleveland Clinic, is ready to install and use in other healthcare organizations.

Industry Experts: Virtual Health is Here to Stay

A top story emerging from the coronavirus pandemic continues to be the rise of virtual health, and now experts are predicting this is a permanent addition to the healthcare landscape.

During a recent COVID-19 webinar, Michael Snyder of Stanford School of Medicine shared that Stanford Medicine’s telehealth patients have gone from 1,000 patients per week to 3,000 per day. Although telehealth doctor’s appointments are a highly visual component of virtual health, tech like wearables and remote monitoring are also on the rise. Snyder stressed that virtual healthcare was here to stay.

Remote care and monitoring of symptoms is emerging as a front-line tool in keeping high-risk patients at home, while still receiving medical care. Experts such as Dr. David Putrino of Mount Sinai Health System believe that the ongoing need to protect at-risk patients from COVID-19 will cause recent emergency policy changes, which have temporarily expanded telehealth, to become a permanent part of healthcare.

ACA Extensions Given to Healthcare Industry; Open Enrollment Unchanged

With the impact of COVID-19 posing a challenge to healthcare provider forecasts, the Trump administration has given insurers an additional week for applications for qualified health plans. The initial deadline is now June 17, with a deadline to change applications set at August 26th, 2020. Open Enrollment is still slated to begin on November 1.

Some regulatory changes to the Affordable Care Act exchanges include: adding provisions for value-based healthcare plan designs, some special enrollment period changes such as shortening the period between the selection of a plan and its effective date, and improvements in data matching to prevent tax credits from going to enrollees who have died or who are also enrolled in Medicare.