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How Regulation Could Shape the Future of Telehealth in Palliative Care

Palliative care providers are faced with uncertainties that abound over the regulatory future of telehealth as they continue to shape their programs.

Some telehealth flexibilities that were temporarily implemented during the COVID public health emergency (PHE) are scheduled to sunset at the end of 2024. During the pandemic, the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) allowed palliative care providers to perform patient care visits virtually. Though initially the telehealth waivers weren’t intended to be permanent, they may have lasting impacts on palliative care delivery.

As regulators shape telehealth policies, claims data for telehealth services will paint a picture of their impact, according to Allison Silvers, chief health care transformation officer at Center to Advance Palliative Care (CAPC). The organization recently held a conference in tandem with the Coalition to Transform Advanced Care (C-TAC).

Medicare claims can also be one way regulators gain insight into potential misuse of telehealth services, she said at the C-TAC-CAPC Leadership Summit in Washington, D.C.

“It’s going to be [about] trying to analyze the impact,” Silvers told Palliative Care News. “A part of what the government is concerned about is that it might be easier for fraud, waste and abuse to happen in telehealth. They want to see if there’s any excessive use of medical care because of telehealth. Most are expecting that it isn’t going to have a dramatic increase in volume, and therefore it could signal whether or not there’s a Medicare payment of care for an interaction with a provider.”

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