If there's one thing the healthcare industry has learned throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, it's the widespread appetite for virtual care and the opportunity for expanded telehealth services across the healthcare continuum. The ability to access healthcare from the comfort of home has many wondering how we ever lived without the option. And while traditional brick-and-mortar healthcare is certainly here to stay, the industry can continue to expect widespread growth of virtual services well into the future. According to McKinsey, around $250 billion in outpatient spending could potentially be shifted to virtual settings in the coming years.
Increased access to care for more populations
Along with widening the ability to offer virtual care, the list of eligible practitioners has expanded. A recent extension to the COVID Public Health Emergency (PHE) signed by President Biden includes occupational therapists, physical therapists, speech-language pathologists and audiologists as eligible to offer telehealth. Federally qualified health centers and rural health clinics are also included in the extension.
If more practitioners and healthcare facilities are able to offer virtual services and expand their patient populations, the likelihood of quality care for all becomes more equitable and accessible to the communities and populations that need it most. Through virtual care, there is an opportunity to help close the gap in healthcare access to historically underserved populations. Quoted in Healthcare Dive, Ellen Kelsay, president and CEO of the Business Group on Health, said, "It certainly is a bridge to care and perhaps a more affordable way to get to a broader population. Telehealth has broken down barriers."
Ensuring proper licensure for virtual care
But virtual services aren't independent of today's healthcare challenges. The expanded access of virtual care to a wider population increases the responsibility of healthcare organizations to ensure their providers' licenses and credentials are in good standing. Since 2016, the HHS Office of Inspector General (OIG) has seen a significant increase in telehealth fraud, especially during the pandemic and public health emergency. Like license verification for in-person healthcare services, telehealth license verification can be incredibly complex and time-consuming. A few challenges include:
State medical boards vary widely
Constantly evolving licensure waivers
Contracting requirements with Distant Site Hospitals (DSTE)
With a larger population of people receiving virtual care, it is critical that providers are properly licensed. Because of unique circumstances during COVID-19, some bad actors may be looking to take advantage of interstate licensure waivers to practice in a new state while leaving behind restrictions due to misconduct in other states.
At time of care, can you guarantee your provider's license is active?
Often, license monitoring can be an extremely manual and tedious process for staff that is already burdened with today's strains on healthcare. Patient safety remains a top priority, especially as more populations opt to receive care with the convenience and accessibility of telehealth. Ensuring that license and exclusion monitoring is a part of daily compliance and HR workflows can help healthcare organizations easily determine whether or not their providers are in good standing and eligible to provide safe healthcare to their patients.
Donna Thiel, Chief Compliance Officer at ProviderTrust, describes the importance of adjusting processes to maintain compliance. "Telehealth has expanded in a way that so far, consumers and regulators all seem to think is good. They're wanting to continue it, so how are you going to change your processes to meet those requirements? We [ProviderTrust] look at all providers every single day, so it's an easy lift for us to add different licensing boards to be confident that telehealth providers are compliant."
ProviderTrust simplifies and automates the license monitoring process for healthcare's top HR and compliance teams. ProviderTrust provides daily exact-match results from the primary source. This allows healthcare organizations to focus on their patients, virtually and in person, while ensuring credentials are always in good standing. Accessible access to healthcare does not have to compromise the standard of care.
Ensure your providers are properly licensed for virtual care by learning more about ProviderTrust's license monitoring solution.