On a nationwide basis, we are being encouraged to limit our social interactions to slow the spread of the coronavirus, slow the rate of those who will fall ill to it, and avoid overtaxing our healthcare system over a short period of time.
What does social distancing mean for those who require healthcare during this time? Could they be helped by telehealth, which has the potential to replace some in-person services and better triage care based on needs?
Medicare has specific definitions for telehealth services—it is covered by Part B and is limited to live audio/video services furnished by specific practitioners at a distant site to a beneficiary in an originating site. Restrictions under the Medicare program regarding beneficiary location, provider type, and geography have limited the adoption of telehealth services provided to Medicare beneficiaries. The Telehealth Services During Certain Emergency Periods Act of 2020, which is part of the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2020, has removed many of these restrictions.