The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid announced on Thursday the final rule for Medicare Physician Fees in 2018. Part of the numerous changes and payment increases is the decision of CMS to pay for a greater number of individual telemedical services. As technological capabilities increase, as well as demands on physician’s time, telehealth is increasingly a viable alternative to traditional office visits. Many of the approved telemedicine codes include instances concerning lung cancer, health risk assessments, psychotherapy, chronic care management and interactive complexity.

According to the press release provided with the document, access to telemedicine for those living in rural areas will strengthen the care available to them. In addition, the changes to Medicare telehealth coverage will make it easier for these providers to bill Medicare.

This is part of the process to modernize Medicare payments and promote innovations that enhance patient care. In addition, changes to patient monitoring via virtual treatment is also in the process of being finalized.

Morgan Reed, the Connected Health Initiative Executive Director, is very supportive of the efforts from CMS to encourage physicians to embrace remote patient treatment and monitoring. He praises the new rules from CMS as an important, yet necessary step forward to a more connected healthcare system in America. With approval for many types of telemedical treatment, connected health technologies are now accessible to those utilizing Medicaid and Medicare services. Until now, participants in those health care plans have been effectively locked out from telehealthcare.

Prior to the 2018 changes, CMS rules essentially discouraged doctors from considering newer technologies to treat Medicare and Medicaid patients. Working in conjunction with the Connected Helth Initiative Adsivory Board, the newly updated rules make telehealth and other new technologies more accessible to both doctors and patients alike.

Speaking for the American Hospital Association, Executive Vice president Tom Nickels confirms support for the CMS agency’s policies. While the support is present, this association encourages a more expansive approach to telehealth coverage available.