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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

Cheered businessman standing with graph showing growth trend of telemedicine for coronavirus

Emergency Measures Spur Growth of Telemedicine for Coronavirus, but What Comes Afterward?

Amidst the apprehension wrought by the current COVID-19 pandemic, a silver lining has emerged: Primary care providers (PCP) are finding that telemedicine usage within their practices, previously hindered by issues such as inadequate reimbursement, privacy concerns, and costs, has begun soaring as cautious consumers seek alternatives to visiting the doctor’s office in person and, thus, potentially exposing themselves or others to COVID-19. Industry analysts are predicting that as both providers and patients embrace telemedicine for coronavirus as a solution for reducing the risk of transmission of infectious disease, as well as for other ailments, they will become accustomed to telemedicine as a tool and will expect its continuation within medical practices. Read more

Telemedicine for Coronavirus: Drive-Through Testing

Telemedicine for Coronavirus: Next Window, Please

Telemedicine offers an ideal strategy to enable more health care providers to address more patients’ needs while minimizing exposure to infectious diseases such as the currently notorious coronavirus (COVID-19). As shown by the recent expansions for Medicare reimbursement for telemedicine, our Congress and President clearly recognize the potential benefits of utilizing telemedicine for coronavirus screening and other health care concerns. Even the New England Journal of Medicine came out a week ago with a strong statement of support for telemedicine’s benefits. Now, the question is how to deploy the technology quickly and in a way that will drive better outcomes for patients, providers and society as a whole. Read more

Handwashing complements telemedicine for coronavirus by reducing the spread of illness

Telemedicine for Coronavirus Cleared for Widespread Use

Telemedicine’s moment to shine has arrived. Amidst rising national concern regarding the spread of coronavirus COVID-19—on top of the annual influenza cycle—Congress has passed an emergency spending bill that expands Medicare reimbursement for telemedicine during a public health emergency by loosening restrictions on the permissible locations for patients during the consultation. Read more

CT scan of Ischemic stroke for telestroke reimbursement

HHS Urged to Adopt New Mexico’s Telestroke Reimbursement Program

Over the last five years, several telestroke programs have flourished around the country, but only one has successfully garnered Medicaid coverage: New Mexico’s Access to Critical Cerebral Emergency Support Services (ACCESS) model. Now, in a bid for telestroke reimbursement, an advisory committee is suggesting that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) use the ACCESS program as a model for building a nationwide telestroke network backed by Medicare. Read more

ambulance with telemedicine reimbursement

Ambulances in Line for Telemedicine Reimbursement

Starting early next year, the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) will begin a trial program with new financial incentives, including telemedicine reimbursement, to encourage emergency medical services (EMS) to use telemedicine and transport Medicare and Medicaid patients to clinics other than the emergency room. Currently, only visits to hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, and dialysis centers are reimbursed, even when a lower-acuity destination may be more appropriate. The goal is two-fold: to promote a value-based payment system and to reduce unnecessary ER visits and hospitalizations. Read more

stethoscope resting on fanned-out money representing telemedicine reimbursements

What’s Next for Telemedicine Reimbursements in 2019

The recent addition of new telemedicine Current Procedural Terminology (CPT) codes may have opened the door for more widespread usage of telemedicine, but it also carries implications for telemedicine reimbursements. This article outlines the some of the most likely developments for 2019 and beyond as predicted by industry analysts Akerman LLP. Read more

handing over stacks of cash

Did Medicare Overpay for Telemedicine Reimbursement?

Amidst concerns that current levels of telemedicine reimbursement are insufficient to support the demand for telemedicine visits, a 2018 report by the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General (OIG) reveals that a significant portion of the Medicare telemedicine payments that have occurred were actually improper; they never should have been approved in the first place. The overpayments amounted to roughly $3.7 million—a sizable chunk of the total $13.8 million in payments that Medicare made in 2014 and 2015. The reasons for the disallowed claims were numerous and varied. Read more