CMS posts telemedicine final rule in Federal Register

Accreditation Connection, May 6, 2011

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) have released a much-anticipated final rule intended to ease the burden of cumbersome credentialing and privileging requirements for the use of telemedicine providers. This final rule revises the existing Conditions of Participation (CoP) for hospitals and critical access hospitals.

Currently, under the CoPs, organizations must, for each physician or healthcare provider providing services for the organization through a telemedicine link, conduct a full credentialing and privileging process.

According to an official statement from CMS, “this final rule will remove undue hardship and financial burden” to healthcare organizations using telemedicine services.

So what, exactly, do these changes mean? Specifically, they allow for more flexibility for those institutions most heavily burdened financially by the extensive credentialing process (such as small or rural facilities and critical access hospitals). Also, according to the Federal Register, remove unnecessary barriers to the use of telemedicine and allow organizations to implement new processes for credentialing and privileging of telemedicine providers.

The complete document issued by CMS can be found here.

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