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Then Versus Now: How COVID-19 is Changing Telehealth

Sep 2, 2020

Historically, telehealth services were limited both in reimbursement and location. Most encounters took place for purposes of rural health treatment and in underserved areas as a way to get specialized treatment to patients in geographic locations where they would not otherwise have treatment options.

The use of telehealth services has increased in recent years. In April 2019, a year before the COVID-19 pandemic, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) finalized rules to increase telehealth benefits for Medicare Advantage enrollees, which incentivized health systems with high numbers of private Medicare plan recipients to invest in telehealth services.

In this article published by the American Health Law Association, Waller's Molly Huffman explores the past, present and future of telehealth services in light of the COVID-19 crisis. Their conclusion: telehealth is here to stay. 

From the reimbursement side, CMS released a fact sheet in March, followed by additional changes, to further encourage telehealth visits, including expanding Medicare reimbursement to 85 additional telehealth services. Yet, it remains to be seen what CMS, the administration, and others will do regarding these changes post-pandemic.

Patients and investors alike are very interested in telehealth because of the opportunities it provides. However, healthcare entities providing telehealth services should carefully evaluate the changes they have put in place to ensure compliance with applicable laws. Providers also should regularly update, change, and review related policies, procedures, and compliance plans internally as a result of these telehealth changes.

For more telehealth data and insights, read the full article from AHLA here. 

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