In 2019, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services expanded Medicare coverage for virtual services and the agency provides waivers in some alternative payment models, but more fundamental change is needed to expand payment to all geographic areas and all services that are safe to provide via telehealth.
Telehealth connects patients to vital health care services through videoconferencing, remote monitoring, electronic consults and wireless communications. By increasing access to physicians and specialists, telehealth helps ensure patients receive the right care, at the right place, at the right time.
Currently, 76 percent of U.S. hospitals connect with and payment for many telehealth services, lagging services. Almost every state Medicaid program has some form of coverage for telehealth services, and private payers are embracing coverage for many telehealth services. However, there are barriers to wide adoption of telehealth.
Medicare generally still limits coverage and payment for many telehealth services, lagging behind other payers. In addition, limited access to adequate broadband services hampers the ability of some rural facilities to deploy telehealth. The challenge of cross-state licensure also looms as a major issue. Other policy and operational issues include credentialing and privileging, online prescribing, privacy and security and fraud and abuse.
The federal government needs to do more to increase the use of telehealth. This fact sheet outlines the issues.
For information on national, state and local activities that affect telehealth and research that documents the value of telehealth in advancing health in America.