eClinicalWorks Blog Details
- 8 April 2020
Swift Action Results in Change of Telehealth Regulations
Pandemic spurs action in Congress, leads to waivers
Extraordinary times demand extraordinary responses. The coronavirus pandemic has sparked quick action from Congress, providing monetary assistance to the healthcare community as well as easing regulations.
That assistance includes funding for supplies such as masks, ventilators, and testing kits, and a less tangible but equally important relief — flexibility in the rules that govern how medicine gets done.
Congress moves quickly
While most legislation can take months to become law, the $8.3 billion Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act was introduced on March 4 and signed into law by President Trump on March 6.
The legislation includes waivers that allow providers — including doctors, nurses, psychologists, and social workers — to use telehealth technologies to provide preventive screenings, routine office visits, and mental health counseling to Medicare beneficiaries.
Medicare summaries and in-depth guidance
- For an overview of the new rules, consult this Medicare telehealth fact sheet from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.
- Practices with specific questions or seeking in-depth guidance can refer to the Coronavirus Waivers & Flexibilities list from CMS.
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have issued these coronavirus guidelines for anyone seeking information about risk and symptoms.
A comprehensive telehealth solution
With new flexibility governing telehealth, practices in search of solutions should remember two key points:
- Your practice should look for a proven, HIPAA-compliant solution that fully protects your patients’ personal information, works with your EHR, and can be used with any browser and on any device.
- You want more than a way to talk with patients remotely. Choose a vendor with a comprehensive solution that allows complete documentation and includes tools for analytics, outreach, and follow-up care.
healow Telehealth Solutions from eClinicalWorks meets all these criteria and more. Our stand-alone telehealth solutions are the secure, affordable choice for your practice and can be up and running in just days.
Private payers: Policies may vary
It is important for providers to understand that the new flexibility in providing services — including telehealth services — is not the whole story. The guidelines above apply only to Medicare beneficiaries. Extending care to patients covered by private insurers may be governed by other rules and policies that can vary from state to state and from one insurer to the next.
As outlined in this article from the Kaiser Family Foundation, many states are now requiring private insurers to cover the costs of testing and treatment related to COVID-19. However, because the rules remain a mix of requirements and advisories, practices should double-check coverage for services to patients not covered by Medicare.