In consultation with the Task Monitor and Advisory Committee, Lewin identified the types and sources of information available on telemedicine evaluations supported by HHS. To support these efforts, Lewin conducted preliminary discussions with federal officials and experts to refine the IOM study questions and identify additional information sources and reports for review.
Using the IOM report as the initial framework for telemedicine evaluation assessment, Lewin prepared a summary and analysis of pertinent articles published since the release of the report in 1996. Consistent with the scope of the study, the search focused on clinical encounters and consultations in telemedicine, excluding such areas as teleradiology, telepathology, and reviews of specific technologies or equipment. Articles were selected based on the relevance to refining or expanding IOM's conceptual framework for evaluating telemedicine activities. Lewin summarized elements of the IOM framework and incorporated information from the literature review as appropriate.
The second part of this task involved collecting information on HHS telemedicine programs and evaluations. The goal of this effort was to identify the areas in which current and planned evaluations are likely to be most useful in informing future policy and program decisions, and to guide future evaluation designs in directions that will be most relevant to the field of telemedicine. Agencies within HHS that support telemedicine initiatives were contacted and researched. These agencies included: 1) Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ, formerly the Agency for Health Care Policy and Research); 2) Health Care Financing Administration(now known as Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services(CMS)) (HCFA(now known as CMS)); 3) Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) Office of Rural Health Policy (ORHP) and Office for the Advancement of Telehealth (OAT); 4) National Library of Medicine (NLM); and 5) Indian Health Service