Medicaid permits telehealth ‘face-to-face’ visits in certain home care services

According to a final rule issued Wednesday by CMS, providers ordering home health services or certain related medical equipment for Medicaid patients must first conduct a face-to-face encounter with the patient. However, the rule permits a telemedicine consultation to count as a face-to-face consultation, if a virtual visit would help deliver services to homebound patients more quickly, reports Politico.

Previously, Medicaid did not include telehealth as an adequate face-to-face encounter for patients. 

CMS does clarify in the final rule what it means by telemedicine, which does not include simple phone calls or emails.

“It is not our intention to allow telephone calls or emails to replace the face-to-face encounter,” reads the final rule. “In other words, telehealth and telemedicine are service delivery models and do not replace the requirement that a physician or [non-physician practitioners- must have a face-to-face encounter with a beneficiary. Rather, the face-to-face encounter can be met through a telehealth delivery model that is recognized by the state…under its approved state plan.”

More articles on telehealth:

8 CIO concerns for 2016 
Why so few family physicians are using telehealth: 6 survey findings 
Hackensack University Health Network, American Well partner to launch ConvenientCare Now 

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