The power of virtual health is something that Congress and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services cannot deny. Significant changes are on the horizon thanks in part to telemedicine. In 2019, reimbursements for those using telehealth services are expected to be prevalent. With healthcare costs reaching astronomical levels, the ability to see a doctor from a computer opens new doors to uncharted territories.
Remember the good old days when a doctor came to the home for a visit? Well, telehealth is born from a similar concept. The beauty of seeing a doctor online is that it can treat those who might otherwise go untreated.
It’s especially helpful for people who live in rural areas, are lacking transportation, or have a demanding schedule that doesn’t permit doctor visits. The benefits far outweigh any drawbacks of the service.
Telemedicine Services Will Help with Staffing Shortages
Though the telehealth program seems to be somewhat new, some facilities have been using it for quite some time. For over 12 years, the Providence St. Joseph Hospital has been working on the technology necessary to help with the lack of resources.
Like many medical centers across the country, this Washington State facility has problems with lack of staff. There is never enough nurses, doctors, or hours to get everyone in and treated.
To date, this facility manages more than 51 hospitals, which are spread through seven states. Many of the people they treat live in rural communities, and scaling their resources to accommodate everyone is nearly impossible.
Though they focus on psychiatry, other states use telehealth services to give people access to specialists. Things like sepsis management, and monitoring patients who are in critical care, becomes a whole lot easier with technology. The real challenge is making sure that clinician and administration teams are united so that the patient reaps the benefits.
Congress and the CMS Agree To Implement Changes
Until recently, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services believed that telemedicine would not help their bottom line, but they feared it would only increase their expenses. Permitting such things, they dreaded, would allow facilities to over bill. The already financially strapped program cannot handle any more excessive charges.
However, officials are beginning to see the light when it comes to virtual telehealth. They are allowing reimbursements for patients who use these services starting in 2020.
The doors are not going to swing open wide all at once, and it will be gradual progress that requires an application to get approved. However, new legislation that passed in 2018 has allowed telehealth services to become commonplace. Getting preventative care, and allow doctors and nurses to communicate remotely, is only going to improve healthcare for millions of people.