The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has delayed The Joint Commission’s requirement to implement CMS telemedicine standards for general and critical access hospitals until March 2011. Previously, Joint Commission accredited hospitals had been expected to implement new elements of performance that conformed to Medicare’s credentialing and privileging requirement for telehealth services by July 15, 2010.
CMS granted the extension because of its recent issuing of new proposed regulations on telemedicine, which will ultimately affect Medicare’s credentialing and privileging standards.
The changes to the telemedicine standards were part of The Joint Commission’s application to CMS for continued hospital deeming authority, and required The Joint Commission to add specificity to its standards in order to display equivalency with the Medicare hospital requirements. The changes to standards were originally announced in September 2009, and since that time, The Joint Commission has engaged CMS and members of Congress regarding its belief that new standards would have an adverse effect on access to some telehealth services.