What is telehealth?
The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) defines telehealth as the use of electronic information and telecommunications technologies to support and promote long-distance clinical health care, patient and professional health-related education, and public health and health administration. Technologies include videoconferencing, the internet, store- and-forward imaging, streaming media, and landline and wireless communications.
Telehealth services may be provided, for example, through audio, text messaging, or video communication technology, including videoconferencing software. For purposes of reimbursement, certain payors, including Medicare and Medicaid, may impose restrictions on the types of technologies that can be used.1 Those restrictions do not limit the scope of the HIPAA Notification of Enforcement Discretion regarding COVID-19 and remote telehealth communications.
1 Medicare pays for many different services that involve use of these types of communications technologies. A fact sheet regarding Medicare payment and coverage is available at: https://www.cms.gov/files/document/03052020- medicare-covid-19-fact-sheet.pdf. Telehealth services paid by Medicare are the services defined in section 1834(m) of the Social Security Act that would otherwise be furnished in person but are instead furnished via realtime, interactive communication technology.