Telemedicine’s Impact on Quality Improvement Metrics and Payments

The COVID-19 pandemic prompted health care providers and systems to rapidly adopt and expand telemedicine services. Telemedicine provides a safer alternative to in-person visits during the pandemic, but simultaneously introduces multiple decision points for implementation.

While many providers already have telemedicine in place, emerging evidence, policies, and guidance on implementation and maintenance indicate that answers to the question, “how do we implement telehealth equitably, safely, and sustainably?” are very much still evolving. Here, we summarize one of the many of the components of telemedicine implementation for health care system leaders. This is particularly important in safety-net settings that already face challenges related to limited resources and fragmented health information technology.

Health care quality measure sets have required modifications during COVID-19 to provide flexibility for care delivered remotely. Many measurement bodies and payers have approved adjustments to their measure sets for 2020 to align with recent telemedicine guidance from CMS and other federal and state regulators. The resources below provide information about how the HEDIS (health care effectiveness data and information set), PRIME (public hospital redesign incentives), and UDS (uniform data system) measure sets have been adapted for 2020-2021.