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PATIENT ACCESS

Medical association happy with telehealth extensions

The American Medical Association (AMA) salutes Congress for passing telehealth provisions in the omnibus spending bill that promise a new era of access for patients across the country. “Congress has taken a crucial step in starting a revolution in patient access. The AMA aims to continue being a partner in moving it forward,” said AMA President Gerald E. Harmon, M.D. “The dramatic increase in adoption of telehealth that occurred in 2020 has allowed medical care that combines in-person and virtual services to become the new standard of care. This new legislation guarantees that patients with Medicare will continue to benefit from this important innovation in health care delivery.” (Medical Office Manager is offering a webinar on telehealth April 6.  Speaker Jen Bell of Karen Zupko & Associates will present Telehealth:… . . . read more.

MOM WEBINAR

Learn about changes and updates to telehealth

There’s a lot you need to know about telehealth. That’s why Medical Office Manager is offering a webinar, Telehealth—What Managers Need to Know, on April 6. It’s free to Medical Office Manager members. Presenter Jen Bell of Karen Zupko and Associates will give you the tools and knowledge you need to comply with new telehealth regulations. Meanwhile here is Jen’s update on telehealth changes to early 2022. POS 10 Telehealth Provided in Patient’s Home Patient is located in their home (which is a location other than a hospital or other facility where the patient receives care in a private residence) when receiving health services or health related services through telecommunication technology. Home may be defined to include temporary lodging (hotels, homeless shelters) and patient travels of short distance from the exact… . . . read more.

FREE WEBINAR FOR MOM MEMBERS

What managers need to know as telehealth flexibilities carry on

Telehealth rules that were loosened during the pandemic are likely to stay that way for awhile. President Biden signed the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2022 into law last week. Included in the law is an extension to some telehealth flexibilities for an additional five months (151 days) after the end of the current public health emergency (PHE). Flexibilities that will be extended include: Originating site and geographic location waivers—this allows patients to have a telehealth visit from their home (or another site) not just CMS designated originating sites Extends temporary qualifying providers (e.g., physical therapists, occupational therapists, speech language pathologists, audiologists, and dieticians) the option to furnish distant site services Mandates CMS to continue covering audio-only telehealth visits for Medicare beneficiaries Delays the in-person visit requirement for mental telehealth visits… . . . read more.

AMA SURVEY

Telehealth utilization plateaus but pandemic surges are still a game changer

Digital technology has laid the groundwork for the long-term shift of medical care from in-person to virtual settings. And while it didn’t start the movement, the COVID-19 pandemic certainly accelerated it. The American Medical Association’s latest Physicians Practice Benchmark Survey offers new insight into the extent and direction of physician practice utilization of telehealth services both before and during the pandemic. Punchline: Between September 2018 and September 2020, telehealth utilization grew from 25 percent to nearly 80 percent. Telehealth Utilization Patterns The AMA’s Division of Economic and Health Policy Research has conducted the Physician Practice Benchmark Survey evaluating physician practice arrangements and payment methodologies for every year since 2012. The analysis draws from the responses of thousands of post-residency physicians who take care of patients for at least 20 hours… . . . read more.

BILLING

Newly proposed Medicare Part B Physician Fee Schedule contemplates Making COVID-19 telehealth changes permanent

On July 13, 2021, CMS published its proposed physician fee schedule rule for FY 2022. One of the key items is the proposal to make the temporary change allowing Medicare providers to deliver healthcare services via telehealth a permanent part of Medicare Part B. The Proposed Medicare Changes During the public health emergency (PHE), Congress added the home of the beneficiary as a permissible originating site for telehealth services for the purposes of diagnosis, evaluation or treatment of a mental health disorder. In addition to updating the fee schedule, the proposed CY2022 rule would allow certain services added to the Medicare telehealth list to remain on the list until the end of December 2023. This would allow CMS to continue to evaluate whether the temporary expansion of telehealth services adopted… . . . read more.

CMS

Two new telehealth resources for your practice and your patients

In response to the increased use and expanded coverage of telehealth during the COVID-19 pandemic, From Coverage to Care (C2C) released two new resources to support providers and patients in making the most of virtual care: Telehealth for Providers: What You Need to Know – Providers can learn how and when to use telehealth. Topics include how to set up telehealth services, how to conduct a successful visit, and how to keep up to date on telehealth payment (particularly for Medicare and Medicaid). Telehealth: What to Know for Your Family – Patients can find out the types of care they can receive through telehealth, how to prepare for an appointment, what to expect during a visit, and more. This resource is also available in Spanish. Providers and partners can download graphics to post… . . . read more.

TECHNOLOGY

Google search interest in “telehealth” spikes 317% because of pandemic

The coronavirus pandemic has brought a world of change, some of which might be permanent. Will we ever again pack concerts with close to 100,000 people or jam into subways like sardines? Will mask-wearing and social-distancing carry on long after the pandemic has ended? Has online shopping delivered the final nail in the coffin for brick-and-mortar shopping? Will traditional education give way to virtual learning? Will telehealth services and online doctors replace a sizable chunk of in-person doctor visits? That last one is entirely possible according to a new study completed by OnlineDoctor.com. By tracking national and state-by-state Google Search trends over a two-year duration, OnlineDoctor found there’s been a massive uptick in consumer telehealth interest since just about the exact day a national state of emergency was declared in… . . . read more.

CODING

Here’s how to represent telehealth encounters in QRDA I Format for eCQMs

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has posted additional guidance for using the Quality Reporting Document Architecture I (QRDA I) format to represent telehealth encounters for the Eligible Professional and Eligible Clinician electronic clinical quality measures (eCQMs) used in CMS quality reporting programs for the 2020 and 2021 performance periods. There is no change to the original guidance provided by CMS in July 2020. Representing Telehealth Encounters in QRDA I format by using the Qualifier attribute: To represent “telehealth-eligible” Current Procedural Terminology (CPT) and Healthcare Common Procedure Coding System (HCPCS) codes for eCQMs in QRDA I, submitters should use the optional qualifier attribute of the encounter code element to send the telehealth modifier code in addition to the primary “telehealth-eligible” CPT or HCPCS encounter code from the eCQM-specified value sets. The qualifier attribute name is… . . . read more.

CMS

Guidance on allowance of telehealth encounters in eCQMs now available

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has posted guidance on the allowance of telehealth encounters for the Eligible Professional and Eligible Clinician electronic clinical quality measures (eCQMs) used in CMS quality reporting programs for the 2020 and 2021 performance periods. Guidance provided applies to eCQMs used in each of the following programs: Quality Payment Program: The Merit-based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) and Advanced Alternative Payment Models (Advanced APMs) APM: Comprehensive Primary Care Plus (CPC+) APM: Primary Care First (PCF) Medicaid Promoting Interoperability Program for Eligible Professionals Measures are not eligible for 2021 reporting unless and until they are proposed and finalized through notice-and-comment rulemaking for each applicable program. Where to find the guidance on allowance of telehealth encounters The guidance is available on the eCQI Resource Center in… . . . read more.

TELEHEALTH

Public health emergency jumpstarts remote care

From video chats to relaxation of state licensing requirements, the coronavirus pandemic has accelerated the adoption of remote and virtual healthcare services. Here is an update from CMS: Medicare Telehealth Visits: Effective for services starting March 6, 2020, and for the duration of the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency (PHE), Medicare will make payments for Medicare telehealth services furnished to patients in broadened circumstances. During the PHE, clinicians can use popular applications that allow for video chat such as Apple FaceTime and Skype, thanks in part to enforcement discretion by the HHS Office of Civil Rights. Clinicians who seek additional privacy protections for telehealth while using video communication products should provide such services through technology vendors that offer HIPAA business associate agreements (BAAs) with their video communication products. In addition, clinicians… . . . read more.


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