The Huge Potential of Virtual Chronic Care Management

Last year, CMS began reimbursing providers about $42 a month per patient for spending at least twenty minutes in non-face-to-face Chronic Care Management (CCM) consultations. However, many providers – including telehealth clinicians – have been surprisingly slow to take advantage of this supplemental source of revenue.

If a provider offers CCM-defined services to 400 eligible Medicare patients per month, that’s bonus income of more than $200,000 per year. Furthermore, in most cases, that revenue doesn’t affect reimbursement from Evaluation & Management (E&M) and other services. It’s additional income, pure and simple.

According to the National Chronic Care Survey, there were two major problems with last year’s rollout. Many clinicians spent up to 35 minutes per consultation when only 20 is required, and about half the participating providers used registered nurses for the checkups when less expensive clinicians could do the job.

As providers become more efficient in CCM care delivery, it’s likely to gain popularity rapidly this year. That means that CMS auditors will be paying close attention to ensure compliance – and that’s where telehealth has a key advantage: thorough documentation.

Telehealth software makes it easy to identify and document the clinician, patient and length of consultation for each CCM encounter. That’s more than enough to satisfy any Medicare auditor.

The chronically ill Medicare population is the fastest-growing patient demographic – and CCM participants appreciate what telehealth delivers: high-caliber, interactive care that’s also very convenient. That gives telehealth a competitive edge because CCM enrollees get to choose their own providers.

It’s time to familiarize yourself with CPT code 99490. It’s the Chronic Care Management billing code that holds enormous promise for telehealth providers in 2016.