CMS’ Proposed Changes to The Medicare Physician Fee Schedule and Quality Payment Program: What it Means for Virtual Care
On July 12th, the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) proposed “historic changes to modernize Medicare and restore the doctor-patient relationship.” As stated by the CMS, the proposals are designed to fundamentally improve the nation’s healthcare system and increase the amount of time doctors and clinicians can spend with patients by reducing the burden of paperwork that clinicians face when billing Medicare. Within the proposals, CMS includes several new changes to its Physician Fee Schedule (PFS) and Quality Payment Program (QPP). One of the most notable and exciting proposals tucked into this outline is the potential expansion of support for virtual care.
Specifically, provisions in the proposed CY 2019 PFS would support access to care using telecommunications technology by:
- Paying clinicians for virtual check-ins – brief, non-face-to-face appointments via communications technology;
- Paying clinicians for evaluation of patient-submitted photos;
- Expanding Medicare-covered telehealth services to include prolonged preventive services.
For U.S. providers, this means that their virtual communications with Medicare and Medicaid patients may soon be reimbursed, eliminating one of the most significant barriers to telemedicine adoption. Unlike direct-to-consumer telemedicine program models, the proposals emphasize the importance of existing and trusted patient-to-provider relationships and how virtual communications can assist healthcare needs. If passed, the CMS will pay physicians for virtual check-ins and for time spent reviewing patient photos or videos.
These game-changing proposals are already driving vital conversations around the importance of telemedicine within healthcare, and SnapMD is encouraged by the CMS’ proposal for virtual care. Support from the CMS further validates how crucial virtual care can be for many U.S. patient populations to access the care they need from trusted providers. Our scalable, white-label Virtual Care Management telehealth software is already enhancing trusted patient-to-provider relationships across the country. By streamlining clinician Medicare billing and expanding access to high-quality care, providers can spend more time with their patients, reduce costs and deliver better care outcomes. We welcome this proposal and look forward to the CMS further modernizing healthcare and supporting providers in their efforts of expanding access to care.
– Dave Skibinski, CEO of SnapMD