Using Population-based Outcome Measures to Assess the Impact of Telehealth Expansion on Medicare Beneficiaries’ Access to Care and Quality of Care
In the March 2021 report to the Congress, the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC) recommended that the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services continue to cover telehealth services after the end of the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency (PHE). This would allow for a study focused on the effects of telehealth services on access, quality, and cost outcomes, using evidence collected under non-PHE times.
This study uses currently available data to estimate the association between telehealth services and the improvement of health quality and access outcomes, in a context where both telehealth and in-person visits are available. The health quality outcomes include ambulatory care sensitive hospitalizations and emergency department visits, and the access outcomes include clinician encounters.
The study also aims to establish whether a similar methodological approach can estimate the impact of the expanded telehealth services on the mentioned health outcomes. The results of the study, and other considerations made by MedPAC, will help inform the decision on whether the expanded telehealth coverage should become a permanent feature of the Medicare program.