Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Regulatory Alert: CMS Releases Final Rule on Telemedicine Credentialing and Privileging

WASHINGTON (May 2, 2011) -

On May 2, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released a final rule that will make it easier for hospitals and critical access hospitals (CAHs) to credential and privilege telemedicine providers.

The rule allows hospitals and CAHs delivering telemedicine services to rely on the credentialing and privileging information of the distant-site facility. The distant-site facility is defined as the location where the provider is located. Members of the governing body of the hospital or CAH where the patient is located will still need to make their own privileging decision; however, the new rule allows them to rely on the credentialing information and privileging decision of the distant-site facility.

One major change from the May 26, 2010 proposed rule is that CMS will allow hospitals and CAHs to accept credentialing and privileging information from facilities other than Medicare-participating entities as long as there is a written agreement between facilities stating that the distant-site entity will “furnish services that permit the hospital to comply with all applicable conditions of participation and standards for contracted services.” This includes the credentialing and privileging requirements of the conditions of participation.

The proposed rule had originally been written to exclude non-Medicare participating telemedicine entities since CMS would have no oversight over them. These entities include teleradiology providers, telepathology providers, and others, including ambulatory surgery centers accredited by The Joint Commission. CMS realized that preventing hospitals and CAHs from applying the new rule to these providers would do little to increase patient access to services or to reduce the burden on small hospitals and CAHs that want to provide telemedicine services.

The final rule will be published in the Federal Register on May 5. Hospitals and CAHs will be given 60 days from its publication date to implement the rule.

NAMSS is hosting an upcoming webinar with Lieutenant Commander Scott Cooper of the CMS Office of Clinical Standards and Quality. Lt. Cmdr. Cooper will give an overview of the final telemedicine rule and answer any questions you may have. Be sure to watch your e-mail and the NAMSS Homepage at www.namss.org for the date and registration information.

Read the final rule and see CMS’ responses to comments submitted

Read NAMSS’ comments submitted on the proposed rule in July 2010

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