A new telemedicine industry benchmark survey, published by REACH Health, reveals the state of the industry and where it’s headed. Respondents include healthcare executives, doctors, nurses, and other healthcare professionals in various organizations with revenues varying from under $50 million to over $1 billion. Read more
After a long wait, the Current Procedural Terminology (CPT) codes have finally been updated to include telemedicine. A “95” modifier can be added to CPT codes for real-time remote encounters with a video and audio component; the list includes outpatient evaluation and management (E/M) codes, consultation codes, and behavioral health codes, among others. Additionally, a new place of service (POS) code, telemedicine CPT code 02, is required for clinicians who bill for telemedicine services. Read more
Last week, the American Telemedicine Association (ATA) issued its yearly reports of telemedicine coverage, reimbursement, and standards across the country. In general, telemedicine has consistently become an accepted tool by patients, providers, and third-party payers in all states, with improved coverage and reimbursement in several states. Some state legislatures are removing restrictive requirements for physician practice standards, even allowing them to practice telemedicine across state lines. Read more
Last week, a New Jersey Senate committee unanimously approved a bill that would regulate the telemedicine industry. The proposed legislation compels payment parity, safeguards the prescribing of addictive medications, and calls for the State Board of Medical Examiners to determine the specific criteria for telemedicine regulation. Read more
This summer, Rhode Island became the 31st state to require payment parity for telemedicine services. The new law, the Rhode Island Telemedicine Coverage Act, requires commercial health plans to reimburse for telemedicine-provided services at the same rates at which they pay for in-person visits. Read more
In one of the first published studies to measure exactly how often telemedicine is utilized, Harvard Medical School researchers discovered that telemedicine use among Medicare patients grew roughly 28 percent each year between 2004 and 2013. This rise is even more impressive in light of Medicare’s restrictive reimbursement policy: Medicare only pays for telemedicine visits if the patient lives in a rural area and travels to a clinic for the telemedicine visit. Read more
In a move aimed at increasing reimbursement for telehealth services, the American Telemedicine Association (ATA) and American Medical Association (AMA) are working together to suggest new CPT codes to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) later this month. If accepted, the new codes would allow CMS to recognize and reimburse more telemedicine services. Read more
As we face a future filled with increasing health care needs and a predicted shortage of physicians, it becomes clear that the old paradigm of medicine—namely, time-consuming office visits—will no longer suffice. Newer technologies, such as telemedicine, have the ability to address these needs by offering high-quality, cost-effective, and time-efficient care—but only if we allow it.
Unfortunately, science and patient demands evolve more quickly than legislation, and our current structure is hindering a more widespread and effective use of telemedicine. Read more
Patients in rural areas and with limited transportation may welcome telemedicine, but what about the doctors?
It appears that physicians everywhere are also embracing this technology. A recent nationwide poll, conducted by QuantiaMD and American Well, reveals that 57 percent of primary care physicians are interested and willing to conduct telemedicine visits with their patients (1).
To better understand this response, let’s examine the context. As revealed by the survey, doctors are spending increasing time on non-reimbursable phone and email communications with patients. The average family doctor devotes nearly 4 hours per week on phone calls and emails, and each phone call alone costs roughly $20 of the physician’s time.
In this situation, it makes sense to replace non-reimbursable activities with billable telemedicine hours. Read more
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