As the end of the public health emergency (PHE) approaches, it’s important for medical billing and coding businesses like PractiSynergy to stay up-to-date on the latest developments in telehealth services. During the PHE, the US Department of Health and Human Services made significant changes to the requirements for patients to access and for medical professionals to provide telehealth services.
Thanks to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) enacting waivers, providers were given greater flexibility in using telehealth services for their patients. But what happens when the PHE ends? In December 2022, President Biden signed the Consolidated Appropriations Act which extended the telehealth waivers through December 31, 2024. This means that the following temporary benefits will still be in effect:
- No geographic restrictions on telehealth originating sites, including in a patient’s home
- Telehealth visits may be delivered using audio/video or audio-only platforms
- In-patient visits will not be required within a certain timeframe of a telehealth visit for mental/behavioral health
- Physical and Occupational Therapists, Speech Language Pathologists, and audiologists may offer telehealth services
- Services may be rendered outside of a provider’s state of enrollment
- Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC)/Rural Health Clinic (RHC) can serve as a distant site provider for non-behavioral/mental telehealth services.
However, it’s important to note that one element of the PHE telehealth service will end with the end of the PHE. Providers will now be required to use HIPAA-secure means of communication platforms while providing services. This means CMS will no longer allow chat applications such as FaceTime, Google Hangouts, WhatsApp video chat, etc. as a method to communicate with patients.
It’s essential to stay current on these changes to telehealth services. By doing so, providers can continue to offer high-quality care to their patients in a way that’s safe, secure, and compliant with all applicable regulations. At PractiSynergy, we’re committed to helping our clients navigate these changes and stay ahead of the curve when it comes to telehealth services.