Telemedicine & Telehealth

Telemedicine & Telehealth Law

One of the universally accepted beliefs about healthcare in our country is that it should cost less than it currently does. Hence the Triple Aim objectives of the federal government as it navigates to incentivize the delivery of care that is demonstrably high quality at a reduced price. This is one of the greatest drivers behind rapidly evolving business sectors like healthcare technology (e.g. robotics) and IT (e.g. EMR). Beyond that, telehealth is emerging at an increasingly rapid pace as the nexus between medical care, technology and cost savings.

Areas of Expertise

Telemedicine law is driven at the federal level, but mostly at the state level, since the developing areas of law are more dynamic at the state level than they are at the federal level. For instance, the Florida Telehealth Advisory Council is recommending that telehealth capabilities be expanded and that insurance reimbursement for telehealth services be compelled. If the Council’s recommendations are adopted by Florida legislators, it will be the most forward moving telehealth law in the country. Our team is committed to advising teleheatlh providers and related vendors of all kinds, both within Florida and around the country.

Recent News

With the rise in services provided to patients via telehealth entities, it is important that both practitioners and patients understand what criteria must be met in order to provide and bill telehealth on behalf of Medicare patients. Here are a few of the basics.

First, “telehealth service” for Medicare purposes means “professional consultations, office visits, and office psychiatry services, and any additional service specified by the Secretary. To be eligible for payment, telehealth services must be rendered to an eligible individual, that is, an individual enrolled in Medicare, who receives telehealth services at an originating site from a physician or practitioner at a distant site via telehealth communications system. An eligible individual does not need to be presented by a physician or practitioner at the originating site to a physician or practitioner at a distant site, unless it is medically necessary. Determination of whether a presenting physician or practitioner is necessary at the originating site is made by the physician or practitioner at the distant site. Read on

Here in Florida, where large portions of the population are as transient as migrating birds, doctors and other practitioners often experience a downturn in their practice during the spring and summer months. However, telehealth provides these doctors and practitioners an option to continue treating their patients from afar, provided certain legal and technical requirements are met. The Federal Government and Medicare have been at the forefront of outlining how these services of the future may be properly rendered, allowing for continuity of care in a controlled setting. Medicare, for instance, pays for a limited number of Part B services furnished by a doctor or practitioner to an eligible Medicare beneficiary. To understand how to provide these services, doctors and practitioners must first learn the language. Read on

Most commercial health plans require that prior to admission to a substance abuse treatment facility, patients must have a face-to-face individual assessment by a licensed behavioral health clinician 72 hours prior to admission, to determine if the admission is both medically necessary and clinically appropriate.   Many potential patients reside in states outside of Florida (or a given destination),  so complying with a face-to-face requirement when a patient is in another state before admission is a challenge.  Telehealth is being increasingly utilized to evaluate these out-of-state patients and perform the necessary face-to-face evaluation in advance of arrival at a given facility. However, as with anything healthcare, there is a right way and a wrong way to implement this technology. In the coming weeks, we’ll be discussing many of the facets involved from telemedicine claims overpayments to Medicare telehealth law issues.

The US Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General (OIG) reports that as part of its 2017 Work Plan it will be reviewing Medicare Part B payments for telehealth services. These services support rural access to care and Medicare pays telehealth services provided through live, interactive videoconferencing between a Medicare beneficiary located at an origination site and a healthcare provider located at a distant site.

The OIG is reviewing Medicare claims that have been paid for telehealth services that are not eligible for payment because the beneficiary was not at an originating site when the consultation occurred. A beneficiary’s home or office is not an originating site, an eligible originating site must be a practitioner’s office or a specified medical facility. Read on

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