A final rule (PDF)
from the CMS will change the process hospitals use to credential and grant privileges to physicians and other practitioners who provide care through telemedicine.
According to the CMS, the agency's regulations before the final rule had required hospitals—including critical-access hospitals—to grant practice privileges to remote-site physicians and other practitioners who were already credentialed in distant-site facilities after they considered qualifications on a practitioner-by-practitioner basis. As a result, those practitioners could not provide care through telemedicine services unless they had been granted privileges by their home hospital and the remote hospital or critical access hospital where the telemedicine services were delivered.
The new rule—which takes effect in 60 days—says a hospital or critical-access hospital that provides telemedicine services to patients through an agreement with a so-called distant hospital or telemedicine entity can now rely on the information from the distant hospital or telemedicine entity when making the credentialing and privileging decisions for those physicians and practitioners at the distant site that will supply the services.
Telemedicine uses electronic information and telecommunications to provide healthcare services and is used often to connect physicians, practitioners and clinical experts at large hospitals and academic medical centers with patients in smaller hospitals or critical-access hospitals in remote locations.