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Congress Extends Telehealth Coverage for Medicare 5 Months

Posted on Mar 17, 2022 by Mike Rigert

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    Telehealth has continued to play a critical role across the pandemic era in extending care and access to patients when it wasn’t safe to come into the office. The technology has had staying power with patients and continues to be a viable option for many practices and patients. Not only do patients report having overall positive patient experiences with the technology, but it’s given them the considerable ease and convenience of receiving quality care from their home or office.

    And thanks to Congress, telehealth coverage for Medicare patients got another lease on life. On March 10, Congress passed a $1.5 trillion omnibus bill that among other things, included a five-month extension to provide adults 65 and older Medicare coverage for telehealth visits. The federal public health emergency that authorized the coverage had been set to expire in April, but will now run at least until July.  

    The Medicare telehealth coverage is not limited by geographic area regardless of the physical locations of the patient and practice. It also applies to some audio-only appointments. It’s not currently known if Congress will act to extend the coverage for the remainder of 2022.

    With the unpredictability of COVID surges and more patients wanting the convenience or option of telemedicine, this is good news for practices. Between March and July 2020, some 10 million patients received Medicare telehealth service or 43.5 percent of all primary care visits during that time period. 

    And patients’ desirability for telehealth went beyond the pandemic. Sixty percent of patients said they’ll continue to use telehealth post-COVID, either alone or in combination with in-office visits. Large majorities of patients were not only satisfied with their telehealth visits and felt their health concern could be resolved through video visits but also felt the technology removed barriers to care. 

    Not only is telehealth a boon for patients but it’s also been shown to be an effective and efficient tool for practices. Some research has shown that telehealth visits create operational efficiencies for practices both in terms of seeing more patients in less time and that overall costs of telehealth visits are less than in-office visits. It offers patients yet another versatile option to receive care.

    In a climate of labor shortages and overburdened office staff, technologies like telehealth continue to help practices offer quality care and a great patient experience. Similar patient engagement solutions like automated appointment reminders, automated recall, digital intake, and text messaging allow front office staff to save valuable time by operating more efficiently while providing a higher level of personalization and convenience to patients. 

    And in a more consumer-oriented healthcare marketplace, technology offerings and modern communication give practices a leg up on the local competition. It’s a differentiator and competitive advantage that will help you attract new patients and grow your practice.

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    Topics
    Telehealth
    Mike Rigert

    Mike Rigert

    Mike Rigert is a writer and content marketing specialist with more than a decade of expertise in the B2B SaaS healthcare sector. He enjoys finding fresh and creative ways to tell the story about Solutionreach's innovative and life-changing patient relationship management platform. In his spare time, Mike enjoys diving into books, geeking out with scifi, expanding his knowledge of military history, and spending time with his wife and three kids.

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