The Joint Commission's plan to implement CMS telemedicine standards for hospitals (both acute and critical access) has been pushed back until March 2011, according to an official announcement from the accrediting body.
Originally slated for implementation on July 15, 2010, The Joint Commission had intended to add new Elements of Performance (EP) that would bring the organization's requirements more in line with CMS standards for telemedicine services, specifically for the credentialing and privileging of telehealth providers. CMS issued an extension to The Joint Commission on the grounds that CMS has proposed changes to telemedicine requirements—which will in turn affect the organization's own standards and in turn change the requirements The Joint Commission intends to implement.
Hospitals can comment on the proposed CMS rule changes until July 26, 2010.
There has been back and forth between the two agencies over the past year regarding telemedicine. The Joint Commission had intended to include the CMS requirements in their own standards as a means of aligning with CMS following the accrediting organization's deeming authority application, though The Joint Commission felt that CMS requirements for telehealth put an excessive burden on hospitals.
The accrediting body has maintained a belief that the CMS version of telemedicine requirements did not provide sufficient improvement of quality or safety to warrant the amount of work they placed upon hospitals for compliance.