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Telehealth

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Telehealth

Last Updated: 04-04-2022

Generally, telehealth is the remote or virtual delivery of health care services. Patients can receive a wide range of telehealth services, including check-ins with their primary care providers, mental health care, and specialty services. Similarly, telehealth can be provided through a wide range of technologies, including video chats, remote patient monitoring devices, and phone calls. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has significant influence on how telehealth services are delivered and paid. For example, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid (CMS) services establish payment and coverage requirements for telehealth services, and the Office for Civil Rights establishes privacy and security requirements that affect how telehealth services can be delivered.

The COVID-19 pandemic created unprecedented challenges for how patients accessed health care. In response, Congress, HHS, and CMS implemented several flexibilities to expand access to a wide range of services that could be delivered via telehealth. This expansion increased options for health care providers to offer care to beneficiaries enrolled in Federal health care programs, such as Medicare, Medicaid, and the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic.

While the expansion of telehealth has been critical to maintaining beneficiaries' access to care, it is important that new policies and technologies with potential to improve care and enhance access achieve these goals and are not compromised by fraud, abuse, or misuse. OIG is conducting significant oversight work assessing telehealth services, including the impact of the public health emergency flexibilities. Once complete, these reviews will provide objective findings and recommendations that can further inform policymakers and other stakeholders considering changes to telehealth policies. This work can help ensure the potential benefits of telehealth are realized for patients, providers, and HHS programs.

Resources

OIG Reports on Telehealth