The proposed changes to the CMS credentialing rules for telemedicine services are good but not good enough, according to a letter from the American Hospital Association to CMS Administrator Donald Berwick.
The recommended revisions would allow hospitals receiving telemedicine services to accept the credentialing information from the hospital providing the services. The AHA supports that change but adds in its letter that these changes govern only telemedicine services provided by practitioners at other Medicare-participating hospitals and would not apply to telemedicine service delivered by physician groups or other entities that smaller hospitals often rely on for services such as radiology interpretation.
“Under the prior Joint Commission standards, hospitals were permitted to use the credentialing and privileging information from such groups as long as the entity was accredited by the Joint Commission through its ambulatory care accreditation program,” the letter's authors noted. “We urge CMS to develop a similar process whereby hospitals can use the credentialing and privileging information from practitioners who fulfill the Medicare Conditions of Coverage.”
In the proposed changes, published in the May 26 Federal Register, the CMS acknowledged that its current telemedicine credentialing rules created a “duplicative and burdensome process,” in particular for small hospitals. According to the CMS, the proposed changes would eliminate “regulatory impediments and allow for the advancement of telemedicine nationwide while still protecting the health and safety of patients.” See the letter (PDF).