FAQ About Telemedicine/Telehealth
- In brief, telemedicine is the remote delivery of health care services and clinical information using telecommunications technology. This includes a wide array of clinical services using internet, wireless, satellite and telephone media.
Medicare: Yes... in certain circumstances. Many “telehealth” services, such as remote radiology, pathology and some cardiology, are covered simply as "physician services." For traditional fee-for-service beneficiaries living in rural areas, Medicare covers physician services using videoconferencing and remote patient monitoring. The ~14 million beneficiaries in Medicare Advantage (managed care) plans, have complete flexibility in using telehealth, as long as their provider offers the service. ATA is pushing the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid, and Congress to removing the arbitrary restrictions that limit telehealth coverage, so that all beneficiaries can get this great benefit. The ATA Wiki has details explaining coverage details in Medicare.
Medicaid: Every state Medicaid plan specifically covers at least some telehealth services, however states vary greatly in their coverage. State-specific information is available on www.atawiki.org and the 50 State Telemedicine Gaps Analysis: Coverage and Reimbursement. ATA has challenged each state to fully cover telemedicine to increase coverage while simultaneously reducing service costs.
Patients: Telemedicine gives patients the opportunity to receive care without a trip to the doctor’s office. They don’t have to take time away from work or family responsibilities. They don’t waste time traveling, or money on parking or public transportation. They don’t risk exposure to other patients with communicable illnesses. And they get better health outcomes and become more engaged in their own healthcare.
Providers: Video visits reduce the time of each encounter, allowing providers to see more patients, more efficiently. This boosts revenue and minimize overhead expenses. Telemedicine reduces no-shows and cancellations. It also helps secure patient loyalty in a competitive healthcare landscape.
The Healthcare System: Even if you never use telemedicine yourself, you will likely benefit from the practice. The efficiency of telemedicine will reduce wait-times for in-person visits, help keep people with non-urgent conditions out of the emergency room, and improve the overall health of the population.