The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) recently clarified that during the COVID-19 public health emergency (PHE) patients may self-report vital signs and other biometric data for Medicare Annual Wellness Visits (AWV) done via telehealth.
The Medicare AWV was on the CMS list of covered telehealth services before the current PHE. However, CMS previously required that telehealth services be rendered to patients at “originating sites,” which were health care facilities where staff could potentially collect the data. When the PHE took effect, CMS waived the originating site requirement (and several other restrictions), allowing telehealth services to be rendered to patients in their homes. This raised questions about how to collect the AWV measurements (i.e. height. weight, blood pressure, other measurements deemed appropriate based on medical and family history).
During a May 12, 2020, COVID-19 Office Hours call, CMS staff first reaffirmed that an AWV can be provided via telehealth. Staff then went on to say that, as for vital signs or other biometric data, if the patient can self-report them, then that can count for purposes of the AWV. Therefore, if patients are able to take their own measurements for the AWV, those measurements can be recorded in the medical record as reported by the patient. CMS plans to issue formal guidance on this soon, including guidance for when the patient is not able to self-report.
— Kent Moore, Senior Strategist for Physician Payment
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