CMS relaxes telemedicine privileging rules

Small and critical access hospitals will have an easier time participating in telehealth programs at larger facilities, thanks to CMS easing its physician privileging requirements.

A change to hospitals' conditions of participation (CoPs) means that smaller hospitals no longer will have to conduct their own investigations into each telehealth physician's credentials before granting them privileges. Instead, they can rely on the information provided by the telehealth practitioner's home facility, according to Health Data Management.

Hospital officials indicate the change will encourage smaller facilities to use telehealth services.

"By eliminating the overly burdensome credentialing and privileging rules in Medicare, CMS has shown it's growing support of telemedicine," adds Dale Alverson, MD, president of the American Telemedicine Association, in a report by Healthcare IT News.

The Joint Commission also applauded the move, calling it "especially positive step for improving access to care for patients in rural areas."

To learn more:
- read the early release of the rule (.pdf)
- here's the Joint Commission's statement
- check out Health Data Management's coverage
- get more detail from iHealthBeat