COVID-19 impact on Telehealth Services: Clearing a Path to Combat the Coronavirus, and possibly change the future of Telehealth
As of March 27, 2020, there have been more than a half a milion confirmed cases of COVID-19, including nearly 90,000 in the U.S. alone. As numbers of new cases continue to grow, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) expands their recommendations of social distancing for containment measures, increasingly disrupting daily life, and ultimately the livelihood of many individuals.
The situation has now reached the point where public health officials are encouraging and in some regions requiring people to stay home. As a result, Telehealth Services have dramatically increased, becoming critical in caring for patients as the COVID-19 pandemic swiftly evolves.
In response to the shift in telehealth, the Federal Government, as well as various states, have made immediate and drastic changes in Telehealth Waiver provisions to temporarily remove barriers to practice telehealth.
With additional efforts to limit the spread of community COVID-19, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) broadened access to Medicare telehealth services so that beneficiaries can receive a broader range of services from their doctors without having to travel to a healthcare facility. These policy changes build on the regulatory flexibilities granted under the President’s emergency declaration.
CMS is expanding this benefit on a temporary, emergency basis under the 1135 waiver authority and Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act. The benefits are part of the broader effort by CMS and the White House Task Force to ensure that all Americans – particularly those at high risk of complications from the virus that causes the disease COVID-19, are aware of easy-to-use, accessible benefits that can help keep them healthy while helping to contain the community spread of this virus.
Telehealth is not a new concept in healthcare, though it has been slow in adaption. Under the stressful environment of the current pandemic, telehealth has proven an invaluable resource to fight against the Coronavirus. It may very well be an essential aspect of whatever the “new normal” we will be after this is over.
Axea telehealth consultants can provide guidance on how to quickly implement a telehealth program to respond to the current environment, or to manage or expand your existing telehealth program.