WEDI Issues Brief on Introduction to Telehealth Codes

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WEDI, a leading authority on the use of health IT to create efficiencies in healthcare information exchange has issued an educational issue brief on an Introduction to Telehealth Codes. This issue brief was developed by the WEDI Innovative Encounters Workgroup with the intention to provide introductory information on codes for telehealth services by individual health care providers. The Innovative Encounters Workgroup is planning to develop a separate issue brief on the payer perspective of telehealth codes for future release.

Issue Brief Overview

Per the Issue Brief: “The use of telehealth to care for patients is gaining more traction among providers, patients, and health care payers. As telehealth services increase, more and more providers will want to offer these services and they will need knowledge of the codes for these services. Currently, there are codes available to identify telehealth services. Ongoing acknowledgment of the application of current codes or the development of new codes will further address the needs for coding for telehealth services and potentially address current challenges with adoption of new technologies for delivering healthcare services.”

Some challenges for telehealth coding that are recommended to be addressed to spur further adoption of telehealth services are identified within the issue brief. These include:

– Lack of definitions to distinguish telehealth data generation from telehealth patient services;

– Industry assumption of gaps in current codes to identify telehealth services;

– Creation of codes for universal use that still capture various nuances of telehealth services;

– Coverage, valuation and payment of telehealth services vary significantly among payers;

– Requirements that must be met for a valid telehealth service vary among payers;

– Limitations on aggregation of gathered data into consumable reports; and

– Definitions of telehealth services vary among states.

The Innovative Encounters Workgroup is planning to focus on barriers for the adoption of telehealth services in its future work. The issue brief is available for download here.