The COVID-19 pandemic rapidly accelerated the use of telehealth. Many in health care do not want to see regulations on virtual care snap back into place once the pandemic ends.
The Department of Health and Human Services temporarily waived a variety of telehealth-related regulations last spring to help physician practices facilitate social distancing to slow the spread of the coronavirus and continue to provide health care. In an article for the AMA website, Senior News Writer Andis Robeznieks reported that the AMA is one of many healthcare professional groups, advocacy organizations and companies urging federal lawmakers and regulators to permanently remove or revise many of the pre-pandemic rules governing telehealth.
Among the permanent changes many providers and organizations would like to see is the elimination of a rule that permitted physicians to be paid for telehealth only if patients lived in a rural area and visited a medical office for a virtual appointment. Doing away with the so-called originating site rule could allow for payment regardless of the patient’s location to continue after the pandemic, according to Robeznieks.
In a video update, AMA Senior Vice President of Advocacy Todd Askew noted that in the space of a few months, the use of telehealth had undergone a decade’s worth of advancement, and there will be no going back.
“[Telehealth’s] going to become, and will remain, an increasingly important part of physician practices going forward,” Askew said.