The COVID-19 public health emergency (PHE) led to significant growth in the use of telehealth services among surgical specialties, including orthopaedics. Federal policy changes to temporarily remove many barriers to access for telemedicine during the PHE contributed to this growth. Congress appears to be in bipartisan agreement that waivers granted during the COVID-19 PHE had “opened a door” that could not be entirely closed again.
AAOS is advocating for permanent extensions to policies that pay in-person and telehealth services at the same rates, allow Medicare beneficiaries to access telehealth services from home, ensure a robust list of covered services, and others that will ensure telehealth continues to be successful. More generally, AAOS believes that telehealth allows orthopaedic surgeons and surgical teams to improve quality of care by improving access, reducing patient travel burden, improving clinical workflows and increasing practice efficiency and compliance with follow-up which ultimately enhances patient wellness.
Please join AAOS in urging your representatives to support legislation that extends flexibility for telehealth services.