The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) published a final rule in the May 5, 2011 Federal Register containing changes to the Medicare Conditions of Participation (CoPs) for the credentialing and privileging of telemedicine physicians and practitioners. Previously, the Medicare CoPs required the hospital’s governing body to make all privileging decisions based upon the recommendation of the hospital’s medical staff after the medical staff’s individualized consideration of a practitioner’s qualifications on a practitioner-by-practitioner basis. Such individualized consideration was mandated even if the practitioner was a remote-site practitioner and was already credentialed in a distant-site facility.
The final rule streamlines the credentialing and privileging process for hospitals that both provide and use telemedicine services. A hospital that furnishes telemedicine services to its patients through an agreement with a distant hospital or telemedicine entity may now rely upon information furnished by the distant hospital or telemedicine entity when making credentialing and privileging decisions for the practitioners at the distant-site that will furnish the services as long as the conditions set forth in the final rule are met.
In addition, the final rule now permits hospitals to receive telemedicine services from a physician group or entity and not just from another hospital.
The final rule was drafted to preserve access to telemedicine for patients to allow hospitals to more frequently utilize telemedicine services. The final rule will take effect in 60 days from its publication in the May 5, 2011 Federal Register. You can access the final rule on the CMS website at: