During the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency, HHS has taken steps to make it easier to provide telehealth services. Telehealth — sometimes referred to as telemedicine — describes the use of 2-way communication technology for certain health care services.
We encourage health care providers to adopt and use telehealth as a way to safely provide care to your patients in appropriate situations, including: routine health care, like wellness visits; medication consultation; dermatology (skin care); eye exams; nutrition counseling; mental health counseling.
Visit telehealth.hhs.gov for helpful information about telehealth for patients and health care providers.
The HHS Office for Civil Rights (OCR) has issued guidance to empower health care providers to serve patients through telehealth during the national public health emergency.
HIPAA-covered health care providers may, in good faith, provide telehealth services to patients using remote communication technologies, such as commonly used apps – including FaceTime, Facebook Messenger, Google Hangouts, Zoom, or Skype – for telehealth services, even if the application does not fully comply with HIPAA rules.
However, providers should not use any platforms that are public-facing — for instance, Facebook Live, Twitch, and TikTok — to provide telehealth.
For more information on HIPAA flexibility for telehealth services during COVID-19, read:
CMS has issued temporary measures to make it easier for people enrolled in Medicare to receive medical care through telehealth services during the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency.
Some of these changes allow providers to:
During the public health emergency, Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) and Rural Health Clinics (RHCs) may serve as distant telehealth sites and provide telehealth services to patients in their homes.
CMS significantly expanded the list of covered telehealth services that can be provided in Medicare through telehealth to include:
For more information about changes to CMS policies during COVID-19, read:
The HHS Office of Inspector General (OIG) is providing flexibility for health care providers to reduce or waive cost-sharing for telehealth visits and other virtual care paid for by Federal health care programs, such as Medicare, Medicaid, and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), during the public health emergency.
For more information on OIG’s flexibilities related to cost-sharing for telehealth visits and other virtual care during COVID-19, read:
Check to see if the insurance plans you accept cover reimbursement for any telehealth services. Most health insurance plans cover at least some telehealth services.
Medicaid covers some telehealth services, but coverage differs from state to state.
Medicare provides coverage for telehealth under certain conditions, some of which are temporarily different during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Federal and state governments are taking actions to remove barriers to telehealth services during COVID-19. Check with your state public health officials to see what flexibilities apply to where you live or practice.
For more HHS guidance on telehealth during COVID-19, read: