Question of the Week: What will it take for telehealth to be a permanent part of medicine?

During the pandemic, governmental and private payors increased coverage for telehealth services and waived out-of-cost expenses, which resulted in increased utilization of telehealth. Now access to virtual healthcare is part of our daily lives. For continued access, payors will need to permanently expand coverage by eliminating geographic and originating site restrictions, extend covered services and allow a broader range of providers to deliver telehealth services. Moreover, patients must have access to infrastructure that will support telehealth services, such as reliable Wi-Fi.

Telehealth may be the key to achieving a move from fee-for-service to value-based arrangements, as it provides healthcare options for individuals who are immobile or have limited access to reliable transportation and gives providers improved oversight of their patient’s chronic disease. This process keeps patients healthier and reduces emergency department admissions, ultimately reducing the cost of care, which is the goal of value-based care.

Providers contracting on a fee-for-service basis should analyze their payor contracts to ensure telehealth services are covered and reimbursement is in parity with in-office visits and pay close attention to billing and coding guidelines regarding payor’s telehealth policies to ensure proper reimbursement for those services.

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