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Greater Coverage, Patient Education, and Research for Telemedicine Needed During the COVID-19 Pandemic and Beyond

ASCO Interim Position Statement Recommends Specific Actions for Applying Telemedicine in Cancer Care


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Flexibilities in reimbursement that have allowed the expanded use of telemedicine during the COVID-19 pandemic should continue and be made available to more providers and patients, according to a recent statement from ASCO. ASCO Interim Position Statement: Telemedicine in Cancer Care also calls for further research on telemedicine’s effectiveness and benefits and offers recommendations on federal and state coverage, health equity, patient education, and research in this growing and evolving field.

This guidance reflects the current state of cancer care during the COVID-19 pandemic under the U.S. government’s declaration of a public health emergency (PHE):

  • The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services should continue reimbursement flexibilities it has implemented to ensure telehealth is accessible to practitioners and patients during the PHE and should consider extending those
    expanded telehealth policies after the PHE ends.
  • State and federal policymakers should make permanent appropriate coverage and reimbursement for audio-only services.
  • Policymakers should ensure broad coverage and adequate reimbursement for all telemedicine services by all plans and payers.
  • Federal and state governments should work to promote health equity by encouraging the use of telemedicine in all care settings, including but not limited to health safety net providers.
  • Patient education efforts by providers, clinicians, and other health-care stakeholders should include information on utilizing telemedicine.
  • Federal and state governments should promote universal access to high-speed broadband through an expanding digital infrastructure.
  • Medical liability policies should provide coverage for telehealth, and physicians should make sure they are covered in all states where they practice.1
  • Neither public nor commercial payers should apply burdensome utilization management policies in telemedicine.

ASCO will continue following developments in telemedicine closely, including identifying ways that lessons learned can be applied to improve the quality of care and the patient experience. Guidance on telemedicine and other pandemic-related issues is available in ASCO’s COVID-19 Resource Center. Additional policy and advocacy updates are available on asco.org/ascoaction

© 2020. American Society of Clinical Oncology. All rights reserved.

REFERENCE

1. Center for Connected Health Policy: National health policy: malpractice. Available at https://www.cchpca.org/telehealth-policy/malpractice. Accessed September 11, 2020.


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