Sunday, May 8, 2011

CMS Finalizes New Rule

CMS finalizes a new rule for telemedicine services to ensure that patients in rural or remote areas continue to receive cutting edge medical care from local hospitals. The final rule changes the process that hospitals and CAHs use to credential and grant privileges to physicians and practitioners delivering care via telemedicine services.

The rule simplifies how hospitals and CAHs can partner with hospitals and non-hospital telemedicine entities such as teleradiology facilities to deliver care to their patients. The streamlined process will be particularly beneficial to patients of small hospitals and CAHs in rural or remote areas that may lack staff or resources to deliver specialized clinical expertise to their patient populations.

Before this rule, CMS practitioners could not provide care via telemedicine unless they were granted practice privileges both by their home hospital as well as by the remote hospital or CAH to which the telemedicine services were being delivered. The final rule aims to reduce the burden of the traditional credentialing and privileging process for Medicare-participating hospitals and CAHs.

A hospital or CAH furnishing telemedicine services to patients via an agreement with a distant hospital or telemedicine entity may now rely upon information furnished by the distant hospital when making credentialing and privileging decisions for the physicians and practitioners at the distant site that will furnish the services.