Telemedicine Physician Licensing Needs Updates

Can Telemedicine Physician Licensing Be Updated?

With the explosion of telemedicine use during the COVID-19 pandemic, several regulations have come under close scrutiny for hindering more efficient and effective use of the technology. In particular, telemedicine physician licensing has traditionally been managed at the state level, where both the physician and patient must physically be located during the appointment, but real-time consultations over the internet are not limited by state lines. With today’s technology and consumers’ rapid acceptance of telemedicine, providers and patients virtually anywhere can theoretically meet online for a medical appointment; in reality, they can’t because many states do not recognize medical licenses awarded in a different state. Temporary measures have been created to address this issue, but they do not comprise a long-term solution to the issue of telemedicine physician licensing. Read more

Telemedicine Appointments Aren't Available for All Social Groups

Socioeconomic Barriers to Telemedicine Appointments Remain

Although the rapid rise of telemedicine has proven invaluable for much of the US population over the last year, this has not held true for everybody. As with traditional health care, social factors are still hindering telemedicine’s reach to some communities. Industry experts are warning that as telemedicine appointments become a permanent part of the “new normal” of health care delivery, proactive measures must be taken to ensure that patients are not continually stymied by social factors in trying to access health care via telemedicine. Read more

Telemedicine Regulations Represented by Stethoscope, Gavel, and Laptop

The Future of Telemedicine Regulations under the Biden Administration

Twelve months ago, few, if any, could have predicted that the public health emergency caused by the COVID-19 pandemic would linger on into a new presidential administration. Dissatisfied by the lackluster pandemic relief bill passed by Congress and signed by President Trump just before Christmas, which failed to extend the pandemic’s eased stance on telemedicine regulations, industry stakeholders are now looking to President-elect Biden and the 117th Congress to sanction more permanent measures in order to preserve the sudden rise in telemedicine usage during the pandemic. Read more

Telemedicine for Emergency Rooms Raises Efficiency and Access to Hospital Beds

Telemedicine in Emergency Rooms: An Initial Look

Overcrowding in emergency departments has long been a universal problem that ultimately compromises patient care quality and experience. Venturing into a seldom-studied niche, researchers explored the application of telemedicine in emergency rooms for care delivery; they found that implementing this practice led to reduced patients’ average lengths of stay and wait times while improving physicians’ efficiency and maintaining care quality and patient cost. Read more

Woman writing "Fraud Prevention" on a clear board, referring to telemedicine fraud

Telemedicine Fraud Plagues Industry Growth

Last March, during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, Medicare temporarily eased the telemedicine requirements for reimbursement in order to increase access to care and reserve in-office visits for the sickest patients; in this way, Americans have been able to reduce exposure to COVID-19, for both themselves and healthcare workers, while continuing to receive needed care. However, the unprecedented rapid growth of telemedicine has been accompanied by a rise in telemedicine fraud cases and abuses. Whatever the error may be, the Department of Justice (DOJ) has begun holding offenders accountable for their actions. Ultimately, the telemedicine industry and healthcare providers will find themselves under closer scrutiny in the future. Read more

Elderly man, having trouble seeing, lifts eyeglasses and leans towards computer screen using telemedicine for seniors

Telemedicine for Seniors: Helping Patients Get the Most Out of Their Visits

Out of necessity, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic jump-started the widespread adoption of telemedicine. Most patients have welcomed the convenience and protective advantages offered by the technology, including the elderly. Despite the impressive rise in utilization rate within this demographic, however, telemedicine for seniors still presents significant, more personal challenges that cannot be ameliorated by changes in legislation alone. For this particular population—coined “unready for telemedicine”—any long-term solutions should consider factors that contribute to unreadiness, such as hearing or sight disability, challenges with speaking or conveying thoughts, possible dementia, lack of an internet-capable device, or not having used email, text messages, or the internet in the last month. Read more

"Paid in Full" rubber stamp, representing zero cost sharing for telemedicine

Pandemic Freebies Are Ending—It’s Time for Cost Sharing for Telemedicine

During the anxiety-fraught early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, most major insurers joined the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) in waiving co-pays and deductibles for telemedicine visits — cost sharing for telemedicine — in order to encourage people to remain at home, thus reducing possible exposure and transmission of COVID. The public, many of whom were new to telemedicine, readily adopted the technology in favor of convenience and safety, reduced costs, and less travel. Now, however, those halcyon days may be gone. Some major private health insurers have stated that as of Oct. 1, they are no longer paying the full costs for virtual visits that are unrelated to COVID; instead, patients are expected to pay a portion of the costs for the virtual visit, as is the norm for in-person visits. Read more

Gavel for Healthcare

Are Lightened Telemedicine Regulations Here to Stay?

As we’ve noted previously, the COVID-19 pandemic has thrust telemedicine into the spotlight with pro tem lifted telemedicine regulation, allowing both patients and providers to embrace low-contact methods for accessing healthcare. Now, several months into the COVID-19 pandemic, industry stakeholders are examining the currently active telemedicine regulations to determine which changes would encourage medical facilities and providers, ranging from small-practice primary care providers to tertiary care hospitals, to permanently add telemedicine to their routine options for health care delivery. Read more

Possible Telemedicine CPT Codes Shutdown Looms

Telemedicine CPT Codes in Danger

We may still be in the throes of the COVID-19 pandemic, but that isn’t stopping policy makers from planning ahead to determine whether temporary telemedicine CPT codes should be a permanent part of the “new normal” that is expected to reign after the emergency situation dissipates. As mentioned previously, quick changes to legislation, especially those that reimburse telemedicine visits at the same value as in-office visits, made telemedicine a much more convenient and financially viable alternative to the traditional model of in-office visits—for both patients and providers. As we look ahead to 2021, however, debate surrounds the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS)’ decision to drop a large majority of the recently-enacted billing codes, which may return the state of telemedicine almost to where it was before the pandemic began. Read more

Doctor warning during telemedicine visit on laptop

Is Telemedicine Losing Its Novelty?

Considering the eagerness with which the health care industry embraced telemedicine as COVID-19 started circling the world, it may seem surprising that lately, physicians have been less enthused than they were earlier in the pandemic. Initially, physicians and industry watchers predicted the widespread adoption of telemedicine as a permanent aspect of primary care. However, a recent report reveals an unexpected trend: In one large health care company, telemedicine usage has been falling steadily since late April. What happened to the early enthusiasm? Read more