News Blog

Joint Commission Introduces New Accreditation Standards for Telehealth Services
Thursday, March 29, 2018

Editor’s note: Following publication of our blog post, The Joint Commission contacted Health Care Law Today on September 14, 2017 and informed us it will not move forward at this time with its proposed ambulatory telemedicine standards. The Joint Commission said it continues to evaluate options, and additional comments may be sent to Mary Brockway, director, Department of Standards and Survey Methods, The Joint Commission, at mbrockway@jointcommission.org.
The Joint Commission has proposed changes to its accreditation standards to account for direct-to-patient telehealth services. The new standards will apply to Joint Commission-accredited hospitals and ambulatory health care organizations offering direct-to-patient telehealth services. Accredited hospitals and organizations, as well as entrepreneurial telemedicine companies that contract with such hospitals, should be mindful of these proposed rule changes and how they will affect their telehealth services and operations. The changes are not yet final, so interested providers may want to consider contacting the Joint Commission with comments or feedback.

What Are the Proposed Telehealth Accreditation Standards?

The Joint Commission’s proposed telehealth changes involve revisions to two existing Standards and creation of one new Standard.

More:https://www.healthcarelawtoday.com/2017/09/12/joint-commission-introduces-new-accreditation-standards-for-telehealth-services/   ...

Three Years Later, Foley Survey Reveals Positive Prognosis for Telemedicine
Thursday, March 29, 2018

When we launched Foley’s inaugural Telemedicine and Digital Health Survey in 2014, it was apparent that health care executives weren’t ready to make telemedicine a significant focus of their business and patient strategies. The interest was there but, despite tremendous technological breakthroughs and imaginative applications, most telemedicine programs were in the early stages and there was little acceptance by the broader health care community.
Fast forward to present time and the industry outlook has changed dramatically, due in large part to proven patient outcomes and surging demand among providers looking to improve the quality of care in a more convenient, cost-effective manner.
According to our 2017 survey, where we queried a range of executives at hospitals, specialty clinics, ancillary services and related organizations, three-quarters of respondents currently offer, or are planning to provide, telemedicine services. Now, compare that to three years ago when nearly 87 percent didn’t expect their patients to be using telemedicine services by this time – that’s quite a turnaround.


More:https://www.healthcarelawtoday.com/2017/11/15/three-years-later-foley-survey-reveals-positive-prognosis-for-telemedicine/   ...

New OIG Project Expands Telemedicine Audits to State Medicaid Programs
Thursday, March 29, 2018

Following on the heels of its plans to review Medicare payments for telehealth services, the federal Office of Inspector General (OIG) at the Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) just announced a new project to review state Medicaid payments for telemedicine and other remote services. Accordingly, providers who bill state Medicaid programs for telemedicine, telehealth, or remote patient monitoring services may expect to have those claims reviewed to confirm payment was correctly made in accordance with the conditions for coverage. The project will be added to the OIG’s 2017 Work Plan.

How Does OIG Define Projects Contained on their Work Plan

Historically, at the beginning of each new fiscal year, the OIG issued its Work Plan, setting forth the compliance and enforcement projects and priorities OIG intends to pursue in the coming year. Beginning this past June, OIG began updating the annual Work Plan on a monthly basis. The Work Plan contains dozens of projects affecting Medicare and Medicaid providers, suppliers and payors, as well as public health reviews and Department-specific reviews.

More:https://www.healthcarelawtoday.com/2017/11/20/new-oig-project-expands-telemedicine-audits-to-state-medicaid-programs/   ...

Medicare’s New Remote Patient Monitoring Reimbursement: What Providers Need to Know
Thursday, March 29, 2018

The new year continues to offer big opportunities for telemedicine and digital health companies, and one of the most notable developments is CMS’ decision to reimburse providers for remote patient monitoring (RPM). Effective January 1, 2018, the Medicare program will pay providers for RPM services billed under CPT code 99091. The service is currently defined as the “collection and interpretation of physiologic data (e.g., ECG, blood pressure, glucose monitoring) digitally stored and/or transmitted by the patient and/or caregiver to the physician or other qualified health care professional, qualified by education, training, licensure/regulation (when applicable) requiring a minimum of 30 minutes of time.”
It is great to see CMS agree with health innovation advocates that RPM services can be a significant part of ongoing medical care and that the Medicare program should recognize these services for separate payment as soon as practicable. Providers and telehealth companies should act now to embrace this landmark shift by Medicare to directly pay for RPM services on a monthly recurring basis.


More:https://www.healthcarelawtoday.com/2018/02/12/medicares-new-remote-patient-monitoring-reimbursement-what-providers-need-to-know/   ...

Top 5 Ways Telehealth Will Change Under the New Federal Funding Bill
Thursday, March 29, 2018

The telemedicine industry has been abuzz upon learning that provider-friendly legislation was included in the new federal Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018, signed into law by the President on February 9, 2018. But telehealth providers, hospitals, and entrepreneurs need to cut through the hype and understand what the provisions will really do for telehealth. This article summarizes the key takeaways and insights on how the recent legislation will benefit the telehealth industry.

Significant Changes for Medicare and Telehealth Services

The bill introduces some of “the most significant changes ever made to Medicare law to use telehealth,” according to Senator Brian Schatz, a longtime sponsor and proponent of federal telehealth legislation. Key elements of the bill include: (1) expanding stroke telemedicine coverage; (2) improving access to telehealth-enabled home dialysis oversight; (3) enabling patients to be provided with free at-home telehealth dialysis technology without the provider violating the Civil Monetary Penalties Law; (4) allowing Medicare Advantage (MA) plans to include delivery of telehealth services in a plan’s basic benefits; and (5) giving Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) the ability to expand the use of telehealth services.

More:https://www.healthcarelawtoday.com/2018/02/14/top-5-ways-telehealth-will-change-under-the-new-federal-funding-bill/   ...

Telemedicine Credentialing by Proxy: What Hospitals and Telehealth Companies Need to Know
Thursday, March 29, 2018

Hospital-based telemedicine services continue to rapidly expand across the country, allowing providers to deliver care to rural areas and better allocate the staffing and availability of specialist physicians such as neurologists and emergency medicine. However, despite the uptick in telemedicine services at hospitals, many medical staff offices still use the traditional “primary source verification” process to credential physicians. For example, in the Foley & Lardner 2017 Telemedicine & Digital Health Survey Report, only 33% of respondent hospitals or provider groups use telemedicine credentialing by proxy. The traditional credentialing process is far more time-consuming and costly than credentialing by proxy, and hospitals (particularly originating site hospitals that receive/purchase telemedicine services) should consider how to take advantage of the streamlined credentialing by proxy process offered by both CMS and the Joint Commission. At the same time, non-hospital telemedicine companies and provider groups (i.e., the distant site providers delivering/selling telemedicine services), should consider structuring their operations and processes to allow the use of credentialing by proxy with their clients. It can reduce the onboarding and go-live time from several months to several days, thus allowing telemedicine providers to start delivering services much more quickly.

More:https://www.healthcarelawtoday.com/2018/02/19/telemedicine-credentialing-by-proxy-what-hospitals-and-telehealth-companies-need-to-know/   ...

Five Worrisome Trends in Healthcare
Thursday, March 29, 2018

4. The undermining of the private healthcare market. "Just recently, we have gotten rid of the individual mandate, and the [cost-sharing reduction] subsidies that were [expected to be] in the omnibus bill ... were taken out of the bill," he said. And state governments are now developing alternatives to the ACA such as short-term duration insurance policies -- originally designed to last only 3 months but now being pushed up to a year, with the possibility of renewal -- that don't have to adhere to ACA coverage requirements, said Burrell.

More:https://www.medpagetoday.com/publichealthpolicy/healthpolicy/72001?xid=nl_popmed_2018-03-29&eun=g807468d0r&utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=PopMedicine_032918&utm_term=Pop Medicine   ...

Paper health records have privacy risks, study finds
Tuesday, March 27, 2018

  • Despite strict laws requiring healthcare providers to secure patients’ personal information, some organizations risk privacy breaches by disposing of paper-based records in garbage and recycling bins, according to a research letter published this week in JAMA.
  • The authors conducted a recycling audit of five Toronto, Ontario, teaching hospitals from November 2014 to May 2016 and found personally identifiable information (PII) and personal health information (PHI) in recycling at each of them.
  • PII totaled 2,687 documents and included patient identifiers, prescriptions, test results and billing forms, among other information. Of those, 1,042 were deemed “high sensitivity," meaning they had PII and a description of their medical condition. Another 843 included the patient’s diagnosis.

    More:https://www.healthcaredive.com/news/paper-health-records-have-privacy-risks-study-finds/519694/
  ...

Millennials more likely to use walk-in clinics, telemedicine, survey shows
Tuesday, March 27, 2018

  • Younger consumers are opting for nontraditional ways of engaging with healthcare and applying their shopping behaviors to the decisionmaking process, a new EBRI Research survey finds.
  • Millennials — those born between 1980 and 2000 — are also more than twice as likely as baby boomers to use a walk-in clinic (30% versus 14%) and more than twice as likely to consider telemedicine (40% versus 19%).
  • They are also more likely to research their care options online. For example, 51% of millennials report checking a doctor’s or hospital’s rating and 28% use cost tracking, too. Those figures drop to 31% and 10% for baby boomers.

    More:https://www.healthcaredive.com/news/millennials-more-likely-to-use-walk-in-clinics-telemedicine-survey-shows/519816/
  ...

JAMA analysis supports EHR use safety
Tuesday, March 27, 2018

  • Concerns that EHRs may contribute to patient harm are real but, according to one research letter published in JAMA on Tuesday, the actual number of incidents appears to be extremely low.
  • Of 1.7 million safety reports, just 1,956 (0.11%) named an EHR vendor or product and potential patient harm and 557 (0.03%) specifically suggested EHR usability factored into the problem.
  • The analysis includes reports from 2013 through 2016 on 571 Pennsylvania-based healthcare facilities and a large academic healthcare system outside the state. Only reports that mentioned one of the top five EHR vendors or products and noted possible harm were included.

    More:https://www.healthcaredive.com/news/jama-ehr-safety/519978/
  ...


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