Medicare telehealth services include office visits, psychotherapy, consultations and other health services conducted by the provider via phone, computer, or other audio/video device. These services allow patients to receive care without visiting the provider in person. As a response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Congress and the Department of Health & Human Services expanded access to telehealth services and enhanced the ability of providers to offer telehealth services to Medicare beneficiaries by not enforcing the requirement for established patient-provider relationships as a prerequisite to telehealth.
From March 2020 through December 2020, 26 million Medicare beneficiaries received at least one telehealth service. 84% of these beneficiaries received their telehealth services only from providers they already had an established relationship with. You can learn more about these statistics at https://oig.hhs.gov/oei/reports/OEI-02-20-00521.pdf.
Other changes Medicare made to telehealth in 2020 include:
- Allowing telehealth services at renal dialysis facilities and at home
- Allowing telehealth services for certain emergency department visits at home
- Allowing certain physical and occupational therapy services at home
- Coverage for some services delivered via audio only devices
- Coverage for virtual check-ins and E-visits
To learn more about Medicare coverage for telehealth services, visit https://www.medicare.gov/coverage/telehealth.