Last December, HIMSS issued 103 policy principles that our society believed would help transform healthcare using IT and management systems. One principle dealt with support for one of our collaborative partners, the American Telemedicine Association, recommendation to broaden Medicare reimbursement of telehealth and e-health services and to recognize remote telehealth visits. While there are many components to this recommendation, HIMSS is pleased to collaborate with ATA and jointly advocate for policy changes where needed.
In this case, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services listened and on May 5th officially published a new final rule on credentialing and privileging of telemedicine physicians and practitioners.
This final rule reflects the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ (CMS) commitment to the general principles of President Obama’s Executive Order released January 18, 2011, entitled “Improving Regulation and Regulatory Review.” It also shows that CMS is listening to the health IT community and implementing changes that can transform healthcare.
This particular rule revises the conditions of participation for both hospitals and critical access hospitals (CAHs) to: 1) make current federal requirements more flexible for rural and/or small hospitals and for CAHs; and 2) encourage innovative approaches to patient-service delivery.
In simple terms, this final rule will permit hospitals and CAHs to implement a new credentialing and privileging process for physicians and practitioners providing telemedicine services. The removal of unnecessary barriers to the use of telemedicine may enable patients to receive medically necessary interventions in a more timely manner. It may also enhance patient follow-up in managing chronic disease conditions. We believe that these revisions will provide more flexibility to small hospitals and CAHs in rural areas and regions with a limited supply of primary care and specialized providers.
HIMSS is pleased to see positive steps, such is CMS Rule 2011-10875, which helps our healthcare community work collaboratively to transform healthcare with the best services and tools.
What other good ideas would you like to see CMS address?
We still have 102 principles on our HIMSS Public Policy Principles list, which we believe is a great place to start.