Tucked away in a Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) final rule that aims to cut down on “unnecessary, obsolete, or excessively burdensome” Medicare regulations on hospitals and other healthcare providers was regulation on telemedicine.
The regulations make it easier for critical access hospitals (CAHs), Rural Health Clinics (RHCs), and Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) to use remote telemedicine services. Specifically, CMS is eliminating a requirement that a physician at one of those providers must be onsite at least once every two weeks. They are simply requiring that those provider organizations have a physician onsite for a “sufficient period of time,” depending on the needs of the patient and facility.
In total, CMS says the rule will save $660 million annually and $3.2 billion over five years. “By eliminating stumbling blocks and red tape we can assure that the healthcare that reaches patients is more timely, that it’s the right treatment for the right patient, and greater efficiency improves patient care across the board,” CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner said in a statement, announcing the rule.