CMS Final Rule Recognizes Telehealth

As part of its effort to update Medicare regulations for facilities and providers, The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued a May 2014 Final Rule (CMS-3267-F) with an emphasis on reducing costs, decreasing excessive regulations, and improving service delivery. CMS recognizes in its ruling that telehealth is an important tool for the medical community and patients, especially in rural areas. As a transcription company whose specialties include medical transcription, TTE is paying attention to the health care, telehealth, and telemedicine discussions around us.

One major provision of CMS-3267-F is a change in physician responsibilities at Critical Access Hospitals (CAHs), and Rural Health Clinics/Federally Qualified Health Centers (RHCs/FQHCs). At those facilities, physicians now have more flexibility in carrying out onsite visits. “Recent improvements in, and expansion of, telemedicine services allow for physicians to provide certain types of care to remote facilities at lower costs,” says the CMS-3267-F document. While the rule revision eliminates a strict requirement for physicians in rural areas to be onsite at least once every two weeks, CMS reiterates the need for appropriate, responsive, and quality care. “CAHs and RHCs/FQHCs will continue to be required to have a physician onsite for sufficient periods of time depending on the needs of the facility and its patients,” it says. References to this provision can be found in the document summary as well as under the Rural Health and Primary Care section (II.F.) of the CMS-3267-F document.

Telehealth is also pulled out as a subsection under Solicitation of Comments on Reducing Barriers to Services in RHCs (II.G.1.) This section clarifies rules on:

  • Telehealth originating sites
  • Distant site providers
  • Telehealth billing procedures

It also recaps comments related to telehealth, including:

  • RHC practitioners and telehealth
  • Support of telehealth and telemedicine
  • Reimbursement and billing policy and procedures, specifically as related to telehealth costs and services

As technology enables more services to be delivered remotely, quality medical records with exceptional accuracy become crucial for staff treating patients under the supervision of offsite physicians. TTE Transcripts Worldwide has been providing expert transcripts to clients for years,
including those in the medical community. Click here to learn more about our company. For more TTE blog posts related to this topic, click on the links below:

While this blog post focused on CMS-3267-F relative to telehealth, the Final Rule addresses many other areas of regulation changes. Follow these links to read CMS’s press release and view the Final Rule.