On this episode of the podcast, the premiere episode of the third season, Terry and Bob discuss telehealth’s promise and how it can keep patients safe during the pandemic. Covid-19 proved that everyday telehealth was possible. But it also serves a vital role beyond the pandemic. It can unlock greater access to care for chronic disease patients regardless of where they live. Telehealth is here to stay, but what it will look like and how it will be paid for is still up for debate. 

Terry discusses the No Surprises Act, which took effect at the beginning of the year, protecting patients from the scourge of surprise billing. This law prevents patients from being hit with enormous surprise bills from out-of-network doctors. Bob highlights how even his grandson was hit with surprise bills when his daughter gave birth. They discuss lessons learned from Covid-19, including focusing scarce resources on the most vulnerable population. 

Former U.S. Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs, Dr. David Shulkin, who led the charge to implement telehealth services within the VA, joins the podcast to discuss how his model is a blueprint for success for broader telehealth adoption across all patient populations. He explains how he committed to reducing wait times at the VA and how telehealth was a major aspect of achieving this goal. 

Terry and Bob debunk the myth that telehealth isn’t a legitimate option for chronic and rare disease patients. Dr. Shulkin explains how some patients need hybrid care, with telehealth and in-person treatment. They note how personalized plans are essential to patient care. He warns that we can’t go backward on telehealth, and the government must continue reimbursing doctors for telehealth services. 

Kate interviews Wisconsin rare disease advocate Kerri Engebrecht who shares her mission to make patient voices heard by establishing a Rare Disease Advisory Council within the state legislature. She discusses the story of her son, who has Addison’s disease, which is an auto-immune disease that forces him to take replacement hormones. She talks about the importance of mental health treatment for children with rare and chronic diseases. And she advocates for newborn screening laws, which can make a massive difference in treatment outcomes for just a small amount of money.

Listen HERE.