Advances in communications technology are continuing to affect all aspects of society. Healthcare is no exception. From electronic health records to patient portals and virtual tumor boards, integration of telehealth and telemedicine into healthcare is increasing.
Examples of telehealth and telemedicine utilization include, but are not limited to, videoconferences, audio conferences, electronic transmission of digital images, e-health applications, patient portals, remote patient monitoring, a variety of virtual healthcare provider training options, continuing medical education, nursing call centers, and more.
Although there is no standard definition of telehealth, current consensus is that telehealth is the broader, overarching term. Telehealth encompasses all forms of remote healthcare services, both clinical and non-clinical.
According to the American Telemedicine Association (ATA), "the term [telehealth] itself can evoke a limited view of what telehealth does. What was, until recently, referred to as telemedicine now encompasses a much broader array of services and technologies – AI, virtual reality and behavioral economics are a few examples that come to mind. . . . "1
While the potential of telehealth and telemedicine has been recognized for decades, the COVID-19 public health emergency (PHE) created an imperative that—at least temporarily—removed many long-standing barriers to broader adoption of telehealth solutions.2 Previous to the COVID-19 pandemic, often-cited barriers to wider integration of telehealth approaches included significant regulatory and reimbursement barriers, cost concerns, variability in state-level policies and requirements, and anticipated provider and patient resistance to adoption of this new care delivery approach.3
With the loosening of restrictions and policies to allow rapid implementation of telehealth during the COVID-19 pandemic, health systems, hospitals, cancer programs, and practices have demonstrated the viability of telehealth and telemedicine for some aspects of cancer care.
1. American Telemedicine Association. Telehealth Basics. https://www.americantelemed.org/resource/why-telemedicine. Accessed July 1, 2020.
2. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. Additional background: sweeping regulatory changes to help U.S. healthcare system address COVID-19 patient surge. https://www.cms.gov/newsroom/fact-sheets/additional-backgroundsweeping-regulatory-changes-help-us-healthcare-system-address-covid-19-patient. Accessed July 1, 2020.
3. Sirintrapun JS, et al. Telemedicine in Cancer Care. American Society of Clinical Oncology Educational Book 38 (May 23, 2018) 540-545. https://ascopubs.org/doi/full/10.1200/EDBK_200141. Accessed July 1, 2020.
This ACCC educational initiative addresses the immediate and ongoing needs of cancer programs and practices that want to implement, integrate, and expand their telehealth services to optimize patient care during the current public health emergency and beyond. Through this effort, ACCC will help guide members of the multidisciplinary team in the areas of rapid response, policy rules and regulations, team-based telehealth delivery, technology needs, and actionable blueprints to build new telehealth solutions.
Through this project, ACCC identifies real-world tactics for overcoming common challenges and barriers to the use of EHRs for data analysis, care coordination, and quality reporting.
Telehealth Reimbursement Update
Since a public health emergency was enacted in response to the COVID-19 pandemic in mid-March, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has updated the coding guidelines and waivers multiple times. Staying informed on these rapidly shifting updates can seem daunting.
Teri Bedard, BA, RT(R)(T), CPC, Executive Director, Client & Corporate Resources, Revenue Cycle Coding Strategies, highlights what your cancer program needs to know by discussing the changes to telehealth services, supervision, provider-based designations, and coding for services.
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On this episode of CANCER BUZZ, we discuss how healthcare providers and policymakers can work together to pave the future of telehealth beyond the current public health emergency.
We explore how patients are dealing with the "new normal,” and how oncology social workers, psychologists, and psychiatrists are working to help them through an unprecedented time.
Despite a century-long history and a substantial body of recent empirical evidence that attests to its clinical and economic effectiveness and improved access, telemedicine has yet to become a routine part of clinical practice for the majority of clinicians. If used appropriately, it can serve as an effective substitute for in-person care which does not require physical examination in nearly all facets of the medical care process, including prevention, diagnosis, treatment, monitoring, and follow-up.
Learn how cancer programs can quickly and securely establish telemedicine platforms to continue delivering quality care during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In the current oncology clinical trials landscape, many barriers
remain to clinical trial enrollment that affect both the oncologist
and the patient. Among these are trial locations, strict eligibility
requirements, insufficient resources to support appropriate clinical
trial education and screening, as well as patient and provider
attitudes about trials.