By Devin Partida, technology writer and the editor-in-chief, ReHack.com.
On Dec. 1, 2020, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released its final ruling on policy and payment changes to the Medicare Physician Fee Schedule (PFS) for 2021. Beginning on Jan. 1, 2021, the final adjustments from CMS went into effect.
Primarily, the changes focus on expanding the services that telehealth covers and making them more permanent. In addition, CMS lowered the conversion factor for 2021. However, through expanding remote services and changing limitations on payments, it’s now critical to see how Health IT will need to adjust.
IT departments have a unique set of responsibilities throughout the pandemic. As more services become available through telehealth, the organization must focus on securing those interactions and all the patient and business data that comes with them.
The Changes From CMS
The changes from the CMS ruling ultimately affect how health IT operates. New dynamics entail increased health IT services.
Topping the list of changes, the ruling cites a decrease in conversion to $32.41, down from $36.09. After reducing the conversion rate, CMS then estimates Medicare spending will increase by $10.2 billion in 2021. This change makes room for the industry to add more services in the telehealth sector, which has been invaluable for staying safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Accordingly, the ruling expanded what qualifies as a telehealth service that Medicare will cover. Clinical social workers, psychologists, physical therapists, speed-language pathologists, and occupational therapists are all among the newest additions. They can now bill patients for telehealth services.