Health IT association posts telemedicine toolkit to prepare hospitals for wider adoption of tech

By Tom Sullivan
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The American Health Information Management Association on Monday announced the Telemedicine Toolkit.

The toolkit comes as telehealth appears to be poised for real expansion in the coming months and years. Also on Monday, for instance, the Office of the Inspector General within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services responded to what it described as a significant increase in telehealth claims by launching an audit of Medicaid payments for virtual care services.

OIG said it expects the telehealth trend to continue, and earlier this month the U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation that would to reimburse physicians and hospitals for using telemedicine tools to conduct visits with patients across state lines.

And when the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services earlier this month published the Final Rule for MACRA it included plans to increase access to telehealth services for patients covered by Medicare, including new billing codes specific to virtual visits.

AHIMA said that hospitals and practices can use the new toolkit to assess potential opportunities relating to their particular needs and to analyze documentation, legal, and reimbursement practicalities ahead of establishing a telehealth program.  

From there the toolkit can also help guide the development of telehealth programs with a particular focus on virtually and securely engaging patients in ways that align with business and clinical strategies as well as a hospital’s existing information governance program, AHIMA said.

“This new AHIMA toolkit gives HIM professionals and healthcare providers the resources to understand the exact process and regulations that are needed to put a successful telemedicine program into action,” AHIMA interim CEO Pamela Lane said. “The value of telemedicine is its ability to increase patient access to healthcare, making the proper care possible, in many cases, and more convenient in others.”

The Telemedicine Toolkit is free to AHIMA members.