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Telemedicine Since the Coronavirus Pandemic

Telemedicine Since the Coronavirus Pandemic

TelemedicineSince the outbreak of Coronavirus, the health care system has had to rethink how to deliver care and one of the most remarkable ways to care for people’s health is with the use of telemedicine.

Telemedicine is known as the remote delivery of healthcare services. Telemedicine has been in existence for years now but, it is historically only used to reach patients in remote areas. However, with the rapid changes in technology in the last decades, telemedicine has transformed into complex integrated services used in hospitals, private physician offices, homes, and other healthcare facilities.

Telemedicine was originally developed by health professionals as a way to treat patients living in rural areas or areas with a shortage of medical professionals. Telemedicine today has become a convenient tool for medical care. Physicians, health professionals, and Doctors use telemedicine for the transmission of digital imaging, video consultations, and remote medical diagnosis.

Telemedicine increases patient engagement and is more accessible, and cost-effective. Telemedicine allows health professionals and patients to share information in real-time from one computer screen to another and this also allows patients to see the doctor for diagnosis and treatment without having to wait for an appointment to receive treatment. It also allows a patient to consult a physician at the comfort of their home using secure video and audio connections.

 

THE IMPACT OF CORONAVIRUS ON TELEMEDICINE

The Coronavirus pandemic has provided the incentive needed to realize the potential of telemedicine. Early in the Coronavirus pandemic, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommended ambulatory care delay elective visits to mitigate Covid-19 transmission among health care providers and patients. The use of telemedicine (real-time video and audio communication) has the potential to limit the exposure of health care providers and patients, as well as help preserve the use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for emergency cases.

During this global Coronavirus pandemic, Telemedicine is making a positive contribution to health care and is also emerging as an effective and sustainable way for preventing the spread of Covid-19. This keeps infected people out of doctor’s offices and hospitals thereby lower the risk of transmission to other patients and health care providers.

Although there are many reasons why telemedicine is not well known before the COVID-19 pandemic. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) places barriers to the use of telemedicine by restricting telemedicine to patients who reside in remote areas and who must travel to a local health center (e.g hospital, doctor offices, or skilled nursing facility) to receive treatment.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s realized that there is a critical need to remove barriers to telemedicine. The Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act (H.R. 6074) was signed into law on the 6th of March, 2020, and this cause a temporary waiver of many of the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Service (CMS) requirement and restrictions regarding telemedicine services during Covid-19 public health emergency. The bill waives the remote area requirement and the restriction site, thereby allowing the patients to be located anywhere such as their home, place of work, etc. The telemedicine service will be paid at the same amount as the in-person service.

The Health and Human Service Office of Civil Rights on 17th of March, 2020 announced that it would not impose penalties for good faith provision of telemedicine during the Covid-19 public health emergency to patients even if the technologies used are not fully compliant with Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) requirements. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services also announced on the 30th of April, 2020 that it would temporarily increase the payments for telephone visits to match in-person visit and face-time audio and video.

When barriers to telemedicine were lifted, health practitioners, clinicians, hospitals, and health systems rapidly embraced telemedicine. This resulted in an increase in telemedicine visits for urgent and non-urgent ambulatory core care both related and unrelated to Coronavirus and patient satisfaction to the use of telemedicine care have increased rapidly. People are excited about the new development and are already embracing the telemedicine model of care delivery.

 

MEDICARE, MEDICAID and CORONAVIRUS

Medicare and Medicaid Insurance service are both government-sponsored health programs which are designed to help cover healthcare costs for the Citizens of America.

 

MEDICARE AND TELEMEDICINE

Medicare Health Insurance is the primary medical coverage for people who are of the age of 65 or older, young people with disabilities, and people with permanent kidney failure requiring dialysis or transplant also known as End-Stage Renal Disease (ESRD). People, who have coverage through a Medicare Advantage plan, won’t have to pay cost-sharing for Covid-19 tests. They may also be offered telemedicine services. Medicare is also used to reimbursed providers for specific health services provided through telemedicine, but it is often with strict requirements.

Medicare reimburses for telemedicine service offered by a health care practitioner at a distant site, to a Medicare beneficiary at an originating site. However, the originating site must be in Health professional Shortage Area (HPSA). The originating site approved by authority includes;

• Medical Practitioner or Physician Offices,
• Hospital
• Rural Health Clinic
• Critical Access Hospital
• Federal Qualified Health Centers
• Critical Access Hospital based Renal Dialysis Center
• Community Mental Health Center (CMHC)

 

MEDICAID AND TELEMEDICINE

Medicaid Health Insurance is jointly funded by states and the federal government. It provides health coverage to millions of people such as people with low-income, children, elderly adults, pregnant women, and people with disabilities.

Medicaid has strict eligibility requirements that vary by state, unlike Medicare which is available for people age 65 years and above.
Telemedicine reimbursement through Medicaid is strictly dependent on the policy stated by the state government.

Medicaid Health Insurance benefits include;

• Laboratory Service
• X-rays
• Doctor Services
• Nursing Service
• Nursing Facilities Service
• Clinic Treatment
• Midwife service
• Pediatric and Family Service
• Family Planning
• Hospitalization

Medicaid is also often used to fund long-term care, which is not covered by most private health insurance policies or by Medicare.

 

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