Medicare Advantage is proposing to add telehealth services for its members starting in 2020. The proposal has garnered support from major organizations, like the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP).
Here's what you need to know.
Defining Telehealth and the 2020 MA Proposal
Telehealth services help patients connect with nurses and providers over the phone, and through online apps and services. But AAFP advises these services need to be integrated and paired with a physical source of primary care. That's the greatest potential for benefits that are far-reaching.
According to AAFP, these benefits include:
Enhanced patient-physician collaborations
Increased access to care
Improved health outcomes by enabling timely care interventions
Telehealth Succeeds When Paired with Primary Care
In a letter addressed to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, AAFP says telehealth services should supplement, not replace access to in-person primary care.
They also highlight the need for telehealth to enhance care coordination. According to AAFP, care coordination “is necessary to ensure patient safety and continuity of care for the immediate condition being treated, and it is necessary for effective longitudinal care.”
On-Site Clinics Create Fertile Ground for Effective Telehealth Implementation
AAFP’s suggestions for telehealth implementation mirror the environment created by an on- or near-site clinic. It's about giving people access and a better care coordination experience that leads to better health.