However, OIG wants more details on what telecommunications platforms are used.
A federal watchdog is offering mixed reviews in its audit of telehealth for end-stage renal disease (ESRD) during the public health emergency.
The Department of Health and Human Services' Office of the Inspector General found that most of the claims for telehealth ESRD care "generally met certain Medicare requirements."
That finding comes with a caveat.
"Most medical records for sampled claim lines included documentation identifying that the service was provided via telehealth but did not include documentation that would allow us to determine whether the services were provided using 1) audiovisual interactive technology and 2) technology that was non-public-facing," the audit states.
The audit covered a stratified random sampling of $38 million in Medicare Part B payments for 179,952 ESRD-related telehealth services provided between March and December 2020, volume that OIG says represents a 10,000% increase over pre-pandemic 2019.
One stratum included 75 claim lines for telehealth services provided to in-center dialysis patients, and the other included 25 claim lines for telehealth services provided to at-home dialysis patients.
OIG says it conducted the audit to "verify whether providers complied with Medicare requirements, determine what telehealth-related information was documented in the medical records, and further inform policymakers and other stakeholders as they consider permanent changes to telehealth policies."
"Providers documented limited information related to telehealth services in the medical records, but the ESRD-related telehealth service claim lines generally met certain Medicare requirements," the audit states.
OIG made no recommendations in the report but says "it would be beneficial for the medical records to document the type of telecommunications system used to perform the telehealth visit. This information may be beneficial to CMS and OCR when considering future oversight mechanisms or changes regarding remote communication products."
“Providers documented limited information related to telehealth services in the medical records, but the ESRD-related telehealth service claim lines generally met certain Medicare requirements.”
John Commins is a content specialist and online news editor for HealthLeaders, a Simplify Compliance brand.