‘This change is a big step in the right direction’
BALTIMORE – The recent decision by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to expand reimbursement for telehealth is encouraging news for health care providers and a step in the right direction for its wider acceptance, experts say.
“It is definitely gaining steam,” said Gary Buss, associate vice president of Hoefer Wysocki Architects, which includes in its list of clients several clinics and health care facilities. “We are already seeing an increased interest in virtual consults, remote diagnostics, virtual sitters and a much more cost-effective solution for some home health monitoring. Additional funding will increase the adoption of these technologies.”
Beginning next year, CMS will increase support for health care providers who use remote monitoring tools and patient-generated health data to care for patients. The agency also created new codes to cover telehealth in lung cancer care, health risk assessments and chronic care management, among others.
Drew Schiller, CEO of health care data platform provider Validic, said remote patient monitoring programs faced challenges in the traditional fee-for-service world, with no mechanism for reimbursement for proactive care.
“This change is a big step in the right direction toward covering proactive RPM programs,” Schiller said.
Miranda Felde, vice president of patient safety at The Doctors Company, a physician-owned medical malpractice insurer, said CMS’s decision is good news not only for health care providers, but also their patients.
“The scalability of telehealth technology helps physicians and health care providers deliver value to patients,” she said. “Telehealth helps them provide direct and critical health care services by eliminating distance barriers, reducing delays in specialty referrals and improving patient convenience.”