Changes ahead: The future of patient engagement

Learn how healthcare providers can seize new opportunities as CMS expands payment for telehealth

By | 2 minute read | December 3, 2020

As if 2020 didn’t bring enough adjustments, it appears that 2021 will likely bring even more changes – particularly for healthcare providers. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid (CMS), as well as other organizations, are continuously adapting proposed rules and changes to adhere to the current environment.

Even so, the main priority centers on the ongoing novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and the resources, tools, and processes that clinics, hospitals, and health systems need in order to maintain operations and appropriate patient care – such as adopting telehealth and focusing on patient engagement.

But what are the latest rulings? And what will they mean for your organization when it comes to telehealth, quality reporting and population health?

A new focus on telehealth reimbursement

As hospitals and health systems resume “normal” operations, telehealth visits are still very prevalent, and the first choice for many patients over a face-to-face appointment. Telehealth appointments can help save patients and providers time, while providing flexibility and improved access to care.

As a response to the pandemic and to telehealth necessity, CMS moved quickly to expand payment for these services and make it easier for Medicare beneficiaries to get convenient, high-quality care from the comfort of their home while avoiding unnecessary exposure.

Before this year’s public health emergency (PHE), only 14,000 beneficiaries received a Medicare telehealth service in a week. Compare this to the 10.1 million beneficiaries that received a Medicare telehealth service during the public health emergency. During the public health emergency, CMS added 135 services such as emergency department visits, initial inpatient and nursing facility visits, and discharge day management services, that could be paid when delivered by telehealth.1

CMS has now added 11 new services to the Medicare telehealth services list.2 Additionally, they have created new regulations to add additional service codes and clarify who can provide telehealth services. These proposed adjustments will ensure that patients are getting the adequate care they need and providers are prioritizing the type of visit for each individual case.

Preparing for change

In order to prepare for the new year, healthcare providers should consider:

  1. Developing strategies to continue to support care. How are you tracking and monitoring your patients and their visits? Is your organization equipped to prioritize visits?
  2. Understanding the regulatory and policy changes. Do you have the necessary tools – and team – in place to help?

Communication will be key in setting your organization up for success, and for providing your patients with the best care. Developing – then implementing – best practices and clinical guidelines can help ensure that your patients are getting the care they need and deserve.

How can you accomplish this? Through patient engagement technology.

Automated patient engagement solutions can help drive patients to the appropriate visit type by protocol, remind patients of appointments and even ensure that patients have the access they need for their care – but that’s not all. Patient engagement solutions are the key to preparing for the changes to come in 2021, and with the right tool, your organization can be ahead of the curve.

References:
  1. https://www.cms.gov/newsroom/press-releases/trump-administration-proposes-expand-telehealth-benefits-permanently-medicare-beneficiaries-beyond
  2. https://www.cms.gov/newsroom/press-releases/trump-administration-drives-telehealth-services-medicaid-and-medicare