The definition of telemedicine varies within the medical industry, but when speaking of Medicare, it refers to face-to-face, combined audio/video healthcare. That excludes email only or telephone only healthcare.
However, the increase of approved remote healthcare has been on the rise over the last several years, for a multitude of reasons. For example, remote healthcare is easier for elderly, those in rural areas, chronically ill, and injured individuals to access.
Currently, Medicare has many restrictions when it comes to how often in-person healthcare must be executed but it looks like that is soon to change.
With the increase of Worker’s Compensation cases in which patients utilize remote healthcare and the healthcare of patients in rural areas, Medicare has pressure to change some of their current practices.
While telemedicine should never replace healthcare as a whole, the fact remains that in-person interaction is not always needed with great frequency. Vital signs can be taken remotely, and talk therapy can be successfully conducted via video/audio appointments.
Another thing that Medicare must take into consideration is that many patients who live in rural areas are allowed reimbursement for travel costs associated with traveling to a physician for Worker’s Compensation claims. The cost of reimbursing for mileage, food, and lodging is most often more expensive for Medicare and the employer, than remote healthcare. While in-person visits cannot ever be entirely eliminated, utilizing remote healthcare has its perks for patients and Medicare alike.
It will take some time for Medicare to rework their current policies, but many expect that remote healthcare will be easier for patients to access. And that’s exactly why some big changes may soon come to pass.