Healthcare News & Insights

New legislation facilitates providing telehealth

Hospitals that have stayed away from providing telehealth in the past may want to reconsider. Reason: New rules and laws are making it easier for facilities to provide and get paid for telehealth services.

507271659In fact, more private insurers have started to see telehealth as a cost-effective way to meet demands for patient-centered care. On top of that, there’s been a strong push from federal and state agencies to expand telehealth, as far as offerings and coverage.

FSMB supporting telehealth

Earlier this year, the Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB) released a model telehealth policy that states could adopt. The policy noted that providing telehealth is only allowed if the physician is licensed to practice medicine in the same state the patient is located in. Providers complained that this put up a significant roadblock.

Recently, the FSMB proposed legislation which would streamline the process for physicians to receive medical licenses in other states, as Modern Healthcare reports.

The multi-state agreement would allow medical boards to share physician credentials in order to streamline the licensing process. Currently, seven states are being asked to participate in the system. As telehealth has become an increasingly appealing option to patients and insurance companies, it’s likely that more states will participate.

More reasons to provide telehealth

Hospitals that haven’t been eligible to provide telehealth in the past should reassess patients’ interest in telehealth services since it’s becoming easier and more profitable to provide.

The FSMB legislation follows the lead of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). The agency’s newest rules established coverage for more services provided via telehealth. Added to the list were services like annual wellness visits and other observational or prolonged service care. It also expanded its definition of “rural” to include areas closer to metropolitan areas.

CMS also created new rules that would pay hospitals for chronic care management (CCM) for patients with two or more chronic conditions. And a new study shows that telehealth could be a valuable tool for facilities trying to meet the demand for effective CCM, according to iHealthbeats.

The study found that:

  • congestive heart failure was successfully managed through long-term telemonitoring
  • obstructive pulmonary disease was best managed with telepulmonology, which remotely monitors lung function, and
  • strokes were effectively treated by telehealth methods that prompt early intervention.

iHealthbeats also reported on a study that showed a large number of rural patients have the Internet and videoconferencing technology needed to receive telehealth services. Also, the study uncovered a growing interest in receiving telehealth. About 38% of respondents said they were “very likely” to try telehealth, and another 28% said they were “somewhat likely” to receive services sometime.

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