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What To Expect from Telemedicine in 2020

Posted by Michael Greiwe, MD | December 28, 2019 |
Michael Greiwe, MD



The new decade will see unprecedented changes in healthcare technology. Artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, Internet of Things (IoT) remote sensors, and telemedicine will all cause changes to healthcare delivery in the coming years. But it is perhaps the use of telehealth services to modernize outdated delivery models, improve care access, cut costs, and provide patients with the immediacy of treatment they demand, which will make the biggest impact in 2020.

As we launch the New Year, let’s look at some of the recent changes in virtual healthcare delivery models and assess how they will impact telehealth’s growth in 2020—and beyond.

Consumerism in Healthcare

Rising costs and consumerism in healthcare are two big trends impacting the spread of telehealth technology next year. Consumers and healthcare organizations are seeking value in cost controls and better patient outcomes.

Becker’s says consumerism is one of the biggest challenges facing healthcare providers next year. Healthcare Finance calls it the “new age of healthcare consumerism,” where convenience is top of mind with consumers.

Earlier in the year, NRC Health and CHRISTUS Health released findings that “Convenience is now the no. 1 factor that influences which provider a consumer will select for their care.” In the past, insurance or a referral were the deciding factors for choosing care. Not anymore. The consumer is in the driver’s seat and they define their choices by convenience and accessibility to care. Telehealth fits well within the framework of these decisions, offering providers a cost-effective way to provide care quickly in the patient’s own home.

The shifting demands of healthcare consumers ensure that the old models of healthcare delivery will not always work. Telehealth meets the standards of convenient, timely, and streamlined care that fits into our daily lives.

However, patient consumerism isn’t the only issue impacting telehealth in 2020.

Telehealth Reimbursement

Recently, CMS released its final rule for 2020 with changes to reimbursement codes for virtual care. Called the “Communication Technology-Based Services (CTBS),” the provision launched three additional covered telehealth services for healthcare providers. This comes on the heels of a number of adjustments to the Physician Fee Schedule that favor telehealth reimbursement.


The new rules allow healthcare providers to obtain patient consent only once for CTBS services. The consent must be recorded just once each year. The document must also disclose the patient co-pay or amount of financial responsibility for each telehealth service.

There are also three new telehealth codes launching on January 1st, including:

  • HCPCS code G2086
    This code covers an office-based treatment for opioid use disorder. It includes treatment plan development, care coordination, and individual and group therapy or counseling of up to 70-minutes in the first calendar month.
  • HCPCS code G2087
    This is another office-based treatment code for opioid use illness for a 60-minute increment of care.
  • HCPCS code G2088
    Finally, G2088 covers opioid use treatment in 30-minute increments beyond the first 120 minutes.

Providers can also request additions or deletions of telehealth covered services and CMS has a new review process in place. It’s a fascinating turn of events that signals a willingness to continue to expand reimbursement for telehealth services. Law firm Foley & Lardner LLP recommend:

“Continued expansions in Medicare reimbursement mean providers should make enhancements to telehealth programs now, both for the immediate cost savings and growing opportunities for revenue generation, to say nothing of patient quality and satisfaction.”

From the perspective of healthcare consumers, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported on a number of policy coverage changes for Medicare recipients, including telehealth. The newspaper reported that this option is currently very popular with Medicare recipients seeking fast, affordable treatment.

AMA Adds Remote Patient Monitoring and Telehealth to 2020 CPT Codes

MHealth Intelligence reports that the American Medical Association (AMA) continued their trend to increase remote patient monitoring (RPA) with six new CPT codes for online e-visits where care providers can connect with patients at home to share information (99421, 99422, 99423, 98970, 98971, and 98972).

The AMA also added two new CPT codes (99473 and 99474) for self-reported blood pressure monitoring. They also announced 95700 and 95726 for reporting long-term EEG monitoring. These changes are particularly useful for the influx of chronic conditions so prevalent in our nation’s aging populations.

Finally, the AMA increased coverage for telehealth usage by multidisciplinary care teams (96156, 96158, 96164, 96170, and add-on codes 96159, 96165, 96168, and 96171). The AMA President had this to say about these changes, “With the advance of new technologies for e-visits and health monitoring, many patients are realizing the best access point for physician care is once again their home.”

Telehealth Usage Increasing

Health IT Outcomes reports that telemedicine usage is on the upswing; televisits have increased by 340% in the past five years. Forbes projects by the end of 2020, “Progressive health systems will start to view telehealth as a standard of care option for primary virtual consultation.” The same article also predicts it will take only two to three more years for full regulatory approval for telehealth delivery, along with robust support from clinicians. As reimbursement continues to grow more flexible and service coverage expands, the true power of telehealth to solve some of healthcare greatest problems, like access, affordability, and convenience, will be solved. With 5G wireless looming and new federal initiatives to increase broadband access, telehealth is poised to really take off this decade.

Global Digital Health Outlook, 2020

Health Data Management covered the results of a new study called Global Digital Health Outlook. In it, researchers predict digital health will have a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 12% through 2023. The study stated:

“Payers should look to digital solutions to boost the quality and efficiency of healthcare, authors of the study say. In addition, digital health solutions are expected to offer “great promise” for new care delivery models and expanded access.”

The study analyzed some of the prevailing trends impacting healthcare delivery in 2020, including aging populations, the prevalence of chronic diseases, medical staff shortages, long wait times, and the quality of care. It concluded that these trends and the rapid consumerization of healthcare mean telehealth is poised to become the next big thing in delivery models.

OrthoLive is pleased to be at the forefront of telehealth delivery models next year. Our customizable, HIPAA-compliant app gives orthopedic providers a chance to remain competitive in a changing healthcare landscape. Contact us for a demo today.





Topics: "telehealth", "telemedicine", value-based care, 2020 healthcare, 2020 technology

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