Might Medicare be ready to reimburse for mobile care?

Could it be that glacially-slow-to-innovate Medicare is wholeheartedly embracing mobile healthcare?

Microsoft's Dr. Bill Crounse says on his HealthBlog that the decision by CMS to reimburse physicians for online consultations--a rule that went into effect in 2008--likely affects other electronic services such as texting, email and instant messaging. Crounse quotes a message he received from Seattle-area otolaryngologist Dr. Thomas Gumprecht: "CMS now permits direct billing of electronic services--and it is important to say ALL ELECTRONIC SERVICES--PHONE, FAX, EMAIL, VIDEO, TEXTING--because logically it is a professional medical service being rendered electronically and the exact mode should not be one or the other, but a continuum between all of them," Gumprecht wrote.

Crounse, so far, hasn't able to confirm this statement with a specific citation of CMS rules, nor is he--or I--a lawyer, but it makes sense. Why shouldn't text messages and mobile messaging be reimbursable services as long as a physician is providing professional advice? For that matter, why shouldn't private payers adopt such a policy? It all seems so simple to me. - Neil

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