By Eric Wicklund, mHealth Intelligence | January 9, 2019
A new survey finds that two-thirds of healthcare providers don’t know about new opportunities for telehealth and mHealth reimbursement from CMS – even though most would benefit.
Many hospitals and health systems aren’t prepared to take advantage of new reimbursement opportunities for mHealth and telehealth.
That’s the takeaway from a survey conducted by Reaction Data, which finds that providers aren’t paying attention to efforts by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services and other federal agencies to expand adoption of connected care technologies.
According to the survey of roughly 280 health systems, two-thirds of those surveyed don’t know about CMS’ expanded telemedicine reimbursement opportunities.
The coverage changes are primarily included in the updated 2019 Physician Fee Schedule and Quality Payment Program, which was unveiled in November 2018. The new rules expand reimbursements for providers using remote patient monitoring platforms, as well as those using telehealth technology for virtual check-ins.
Those new guidelines could make a difference in the so-far sluggish adoption rate for telehealth and telemedicine. According to the survey, 63 percent of the health systems surveyed said improved federal support would speed up implementation of virtual care services or increase use.
That said, more than half – 53 percent – of those surveyed aren’t using telehealth or telemedicine at this point, according to the survey. Of those using the technology, 23 percent are contracting for those services, while 24 percent are using a homegrown platform.
This reticence isn’t new. Healthcare experts have long noted that providers aren’t jumping onto the connected health bandwagon without some reassurance that they’ll be paid for using the new technology, while those in charge of the purse strings have said they’ll start paying once it’s been proven the technology improves outcomes and reduces waste.
But with private payers moving to cover more virtual care services and CMS making incremental changes to its reimbursement structure, the general consensus is that more providers will embrace the technology.