The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) that during the COVID-19 public health emergency patients may self-report vital signs and other biometric data for Medicare annual wellness visits (AWV) done via telehealth.
Medicare AWVs have always been on the CMS list of covered telehealth services. But there was some confusion about how to collect certain required biometric data (e.g., height, weight, blood pressure, and other measurements deemed appropriate based on medical and family history) after CMS waived the originating site requirement and allowed telehealth to be delivered to patients in their homes during the COVID-19 emergency.
During a May 12 COVID-19 Office Hours call, CMS staff reaffirmed that an AWV can be provided via telehealth and physicians may record vital signs that patients have measured themselves. CMS has said it will soon release further guidance, including what to when patients are unable to collect their own measurements.
Additionally, it may be useful for practices to ask patients to submit self-reported vitals for other telehealth visits as well during the pandemic. Jesse Bracamonte, MD, and Augustine Chavez, DO, write in an FPM Practice Pearl that they started having their staff instruct patients to submit vitals via the portal in advance of telehealth visits, and it has helped with chronic disease management in particular.
“Patients with conditions such as hypertension, obesity, and diabetes may be experienced at measuring glucose and blood pressure, but may require a gentle reminder to have those measurements ready for the appointment,” Bracamonte and Chavez say.
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