Medicare Mulls Expanding Telehealth To Wellness, Behavioral Visits

The proposed rule would also pay for rural telemedicine for providers who are closer to big cities. Elsewhere, telemedicine in treating injured workers -- especially in rural areas -- catches on.

Modern Healthcare: Proposed CMS Rule Expands Telehealth Payments, Domain 
Wellness and behavioral health visits are among a few telehealth coverage expansions the CMS wants to add to the list of Medicare-reimbursable telehealth activities under a proposal released Thursday. Providers also would be paid for telehealth services in rural areas nearer big cities under a geographical expansion in the proposed rule (Conn, 7/7).

Modern Healthcare: Telemedicine Gains Ground In Treatment Of Injured Workers
Telemedicine is gaining ground in treating injured workers, especially in rural areas, to speed their evaluation and possibly reduce the costs paid by employers. Telemedicine, which is defined in workers compensation as a remote, virtual interaction involving two or more parties in the claims process, has long involved telephone communications between workers and pharmacy benefit managers, or treating physicians and specialists, experts said. It's evolved in recent years to include remote face-to-face interactions and the remote measuring of vital signs.  The costs associated with treating workers in rural areas, in addition to more awareness about telemedicine and increased acceptance of technology, has led the industry to embrace the 40-year-old practice in new ways, said Jonathan Linkous, CEO of the American Telemedicine Association in Washington (Goldberg, 7/7).

In other health IT news -

PBS NewsHour: FDA Regulation Can’t Keep Pace With New Mobile Health Apps
The hundreds of mobile health applications produced each month outpaces the Food and Drug Administration’s ability to regulate them, a policy adviser to the agency said last month. Although lawmakers have repeatedly called on Congress to create a special office within the FDA to regulate health apps available in the mobile marketplace, the idea was rejected at a roundtable discussion on medical device security in June. “It’s just not possible,” said Dr. Bakul Patel, an FDA policy adviser in the Center for Devices and Radiological Health (Barajas, 7/7).

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