CMS Rule Eases Authorization Requirements for Telehealth

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services today issued a final rule implementing changes to the Medicare Conditions of Participation for the credentialing and privileging of telemedicine physicians and practitioners. The Medicare CoPs previously required the governing body of a hospital to make all privileging decisions based on the recommendation of the hospital’s medical staff after the medical staff had thoroughly reviewed the credentials of practitioners applying for privileges. Similarly, each critical access hospital was required to have its privileging decisions made by its governing body or the individual responsible for the CAH. This requirement was applied regardless of whether the services are to be provided onsite at the hospital or through a telecommunications system. Today’s final rule allows the hospital or CAH receiving the telemedicine services to  Continue reading

Telemedicine Acknowledged by Medicare

American Medical News: Through teleconferencing technology, doctors are able to treat patients who live far away without access to a specialist. “Nationwide, telemedicine increasingly is being used to bridge gaps in access to care in rural and other medically underserved communities that have a hard time recruiting physicians. … The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services is making changes to promote telemedicine. In June, the agency proposed new policies that would make it easier for hospital officials to credential physicians who provide telemedicine services at their facilities. And in January 2011, CMS will expand Medicaid coverage for remote services, including disease management training for patients with diabetes or kidney disease” (Krupa, 11/22).

Austin American-Statesman: “Tech executives say Austin is positioned to be a player in health care technology, thanks to its deep pool of business software talent that is comfortable working in a startup environment and has expertise in creating products that save companies money. … So far, a handful of promising venture-backed players have emerged. … All in all, hundreds of computer hardware, software and services companies are competing for a piece of the market, which accelerated in 2009 with the passage of the federal economic stimulus bill, which set aside $19 billion in incentives for health care information technology. By one estimate, the government’s push to spur health care computer spending will help drive global health care IT spending to $106 billion by 2014, up from nearly $89 billion this year (Hawkins, 11/21).

The (Newark, N.J.) Star-Ledger: “Under federal health care reform, doctors must convert to an electronic system capable of chronicling each patient visit, tracking their care and sharing that information with hospitals and other doctors by 2015 — or the federal government will withhold some of the money it reimburses them for treating Medicare and Medicaid patients. … But so far, neither the promise of incentive nor threat of punishment is enticing a large number of New Jersey doctors to make the big switch. Only 20 percent of physicians in New Jersey have incorporated electronic medical records into their daily practice, compared to nearly 30 percent nationally, state Health and Senior Services Commissioner Poonam Alaigh said” (Livio, 11/21).