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Increased Reimbursement has Physicians Embracing Telehealth

By Ryan Mcaskill

Because of increased reimbursement, a majority of physicians are making plans to increase telehealth services.

The reimbursement rates for telehealth and remote monitoring is growing across the country. There are a number of states that are debating legislation to improve the way that telemedicine is reimbursed by insurance and government programs. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services implemented new policy on January 1, 2015 that reimburses providers who actively manage Medicare patients who are diagnosed with two or more chronic conditions.

- Reimbursement has been one of the major hurdles to increased telehealth and remote monitoring service. American Telemedicine Association CEO Jonathan Linkous spoke about this challenge last month during an interview with mHealthIntelligence.com.

“There is still issues with reimbursement,” Linkous said. “Medicare is the slowest to adopt the use of this technology, so it is going to be a few years for them to really come in line to do everything they should. There is some reimbursement now through Medicare and as we move through other kinds of payment mechanisms - the payment for quality rather than quantity - and when those take hold it is going to accelerate it, but we have to move faster than that pace.”

The increased reimbursement from CMS and the proposed state legislation, has more physicians willing to embrace the technology.

According to a survey by Kryptiq, a developer of population health management solutions, 76 percent of respondents would be organizing to meet chronic care management program requirements within the next six months. Furthermore, 92 percent said that they would be ready within a year.

"The survey results provide additional evidence that the transition from volume to value is underway," Cynthia Burghard, Research Director at IDC Health Insights, said in the report. "For the first time, the Department of Health and Human Services has developed a timetable with specific milestones and thresholds detailing Medicare's shift toward new value-based payment models. The CCM program serves as an extension of health policy and complements ongoing changes to provider reimbursement."

Linkous expressed a similar feeling about the impact that increased reimbursement will have on the entire healthcare system.

“Medicare beneficiaries got an important treat for home care of chronic care management, remote patient monitoring of chronic conditions, and other services when provided via telehealth,” Linkous said. “It has been a long time coming, but this rulemaking signals a clear and bold step in the right direction for Medicare. This allows providers to use telemedicine technology to improve the cost and quality of healthcare delivery.”

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