Telehealth as we now know it has existed since the mid-1990s. However, with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020, providers and health care systems across the nation scrambled to implement telehealth programs to continue to safely provide their patients' health care services. Telehealth and telemedicine use have since skyrocketed to unprecedented levels.
Telehealth is a general term that can include education, consultation, videoconference meetings, and patient contact. Telemedicine usually refers solely to clinical patient encounters with a healthcare professional.
A Word about the COVID-19 Pandemic
The federal government and individual states declared a Public Health Emergency (PHE) when the COVID-19 pandemic began. During the PHE, many federal and state regulations regarding telehealth and virtual care were relaxed, either through a temporary rule change and/or by a statement that specific rules would not be enforced during the PHE. Please be aware that:
- Temporary state changes may differ from one state to the next, and many may not be the same as the federal changes.
- In most cases, these temporary changes will end with the end of the PHE.
- Federal and state emergency end dates may be different.
Also note that changes are still being made to rules being relaxed during the PHE. Always check the posting date of the information you are reviewing to be sure that you have the most up-to-date and accurate information.
This website was made possible by grant number GA5RH37461 from the Office for the Advancement of Telehealth, Health Resources and Services Administration, Department of Health and Human Services. It focuses on rules and regulations that address or impact telehealth practice within Washington State and at the federal level, including Medicare reimbursement, as well as changes that have taken effect during the PHE, and in some cases, changes that will or may happen following the PHE.
Washington State Information | Reimbursement: Federal Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Information | Insurance Coverage: Employee Retirement and Income Security Act (ERISA) Information | Telehealth and Federal Resources