The American Telemedicine Association has sent a letter to acting CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner urging CMS to update Medicare's conditions of participation for hospitals to better accommodate the use of telehealth services, Modern Healthcare reports.
In its letter, ATA suggested changes that would facilitate the use of telehealth services for:
- Critical and intensive care;
- Emergency care;
- Preventing readmissions; and
- Stroke care.
According to the letter, allowing health care facilities to use videoconferencing for emergency and stroke care would "significantly lift the burden of maintaining on-site staffing on a continuous basis."
The letter also recommended that CMS allow hospitals to use telehealth technology to help meet intensive and critical care staffing requirements. The letter stated that telehealth technology is "a valuable resource for meeting intensive and critical care patient needs" (Barr, Modern Healthcare, 12/28/11).
According to ATA, greater use of telehealth would benefit:
- Health care providers, by making it easier for them to provide medical services from wherever they are located;
- Hospitals, by allowing them to provide off-hours care through shared staffing arrangements with other health care providers; and
- Patients, by allowing them to access emergency and specialist care at any time (ATA letter, 12/22/11).