Back to Top Skip to main content

DHA increases access to telehealth during COVID-19 pandemic

Medical personnel sitting at desk talking into laptop monitor U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Brendt Feldt, a surgeon at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center’s Ear, Nose and Throat Clinic, conducts a virtual health appointment via synchronous video. Innovations in virtual health, particularly telehealth, have been essential to continuing quality care for beneficiaries during the COVID-19 pandemic. DHA has made temporary changes to TRICARE regulations to expand telehealth care and prevent the spread of COVID-19. (Photo by Marcy Sanchez)

Recommended Content:

TRICARE Health Program | Coronavirus

Innovations to telehealth are essential to patient care during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Military Health System recognizes the importance of telehealth to prevent in-person spread of the novel coronavirus while still providing quality care to beneficiaries. As a result, the Defense Health Agency is making three temporary revisions to TRICARE regulations regarding telehealth with unprecedented speed.

DHA published an interim final rule in the Federal Register May 12, 2020. The rule invoked temporary changes to how beneficiaries and providers receive and provide telehealth care. These changes to the TRICARE telehealth rules were not Congress-directed. DHA acknowledged the need to make temporary changes to telehealth policy and took action to expand access to care during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Changes to regulation that require publication to the Federal Register usually take six months to a year to implement. However, DHA sought to expedite the process due to the urgency to continue providing care during the pandemic. DHA recognizes that both beneficiaries and providers may have technical and capacity limitations to the expansive telehealth demand created by both social distancing recommendations and restrictions to person-to-person interactions.

“The speed in which the DHA was able to respond to an identified need of expanding telehealth opportunities and get a rule change published is credit to the dedication of our great staff working tirelessly for our beneficiaries,” said Christopher Priest, deputy assistant director, Health Care Operations, DHA. “These are challenging times, but every day I see colleagues striving to improve how we deliver the TRICARE benefit under unprecedented conditions.”

The agency hopes to implement changes to beneficiaries worldwide in 30-90 days. Once implemented, changes made through the interim final rule will stand as long as the country remains in a state of national emergency, as declared by the president March 13, 2020.

The first change gives beneficiaries access to audio-only telephone visits with their providers. TRICARE will permit audio-only health care visits to improve access to care for beneficiaries that cannot access audio-visual care. Beneficiaries that cannot access audio-visual care due to lack of in-home technology, such as smartphones or computers, or who live in remote areas without the bandwidth for video conferencing, can take advantage of this service.

DHA is also increasing the provider access to care with the second regulatory change: TRICARE will reimburse providers that practice interstate telehealth where permitted by federal or state law, even if the provider is not licensed in the state where they are remoting in. Usually, providers that offer telehealth must be licensed in both the state where they practice and the state where their beneficiaries reside. This requirement will be temporarily modified to allow providers to expand their telehealth reach and still qualify for reimbursement. The rule also applies to providers overseas as long as a provider holds an equivalent license in another nation, and the host nation permits such practice.

The third change temporarily waives cost-shares and copayments for covered, in-network telehealth services. This change doesn’t cover just services related to COVID-19, but all telehealth services inside of the network. DHA hopes that by removing these costs, beneficiaries take advantage of telehealth and reduce exposure of others to TRICARE beneficiaries who may have the novel coronavirus.

Although the new rules are effective May 12, it will take time for all of the changes to be fully implemented. Beneficiaries may still be assessed a copay for telehealth services over the next few months, but adjudicated claims will either be pended or copays may be reimbursed. Some changes may remain in effect beyond the national emergency for overseas locations. DHA will reevaluate telehealth changes in the long term once the threat of COVID-19 diminishes.

DHA remains dedicated to transparency, while working to swiftly to reduce inconvenience for their beneficiaries and providers. Future updates will be posted to Health.mil and TRICARE.mil as they are finalized.

You also may be interested in...

DHA contributes to COVID-19 vaccine effort

Article
12/16/2020
Vaccine bottles

While Pfizer’s vaccine is being distributed to all U.S. jurisdictions for administration, several more candidates are in development and clinical trials continue to be conducted simultaneously with pharmaceutical partners.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts | COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit | COVID-19 Toolkit

COVID-19 Vaccine Headed to NMC San Diego and NH Camp Pendleton

Article
12/15/2020
Gloved hands preparing vaccine for transportation

[T]he first doses of the vaccine will be given to frontline health care workers and first responders, including emergency medical services personnel, security forces, and other essential personnel.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts

Frontline health care workers among first in DOD for COVID-19 vaccine

Article
12/15/2020
Man getting vaccine

"This is a very important day, not just for the Department of Defense, but for our nation," Miller said before getting his vaccination.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts

National Guard and Reservists doing their part to fight COVID-19

Article
12/14/2020
Military personnel performing nasal swabs of people in a row of cars

“We can do a thousand tests in just a couple hours,” Keller said. It was an example of ingenuity taking place all over the country, with members of the Military Health System partnering with civilian hospitals and clinics.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus

COVID-19 Convalescent plasma collection continues

Article
12/14/2020
Three units of CCP laying on a table

CCP has a one-year shelf life, so collected units will begin to expire in 2021.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | Convalescent Plasma Collection Program

Hepburn: DOD role in Operation Warp Speed was ‘transformative’

Article
12/11/2020
Medical technician getting a syringe ready to give a vaccine

The FDA announced on Dec. 8 that its review of the Pfizer vaccine found it to be safe and efficacious.

Recommended Content:

COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts | Operation Warp Speed Vaccine Trials | Coronavirus

Deputy defense secretary stresses team approach in battling COVID

Article
12/10/2020
Soldier wearing mask, standing at computer monitors in an office building

The Military Health System has played an important role implementing the National Defense Strategy, Norquist said.

Recommended Content:

MHS Transformation | Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts | Health Readiness

DOD Officials Announce Distribution Plan for Initial COVID-19 Vaccine

Article
12/10/2020
Image of Mr. McCaffery speaking at a podium at the Pentagon

DOD is expected to receive around 44,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine in the initial phase.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts

DoD COVID 19 Vaccine Distribution Plan and Population Schema

Publication
12/10/2020

Regarding the initial COVID-19 vaccination rollout, Defense Department officials announced a phased and coordinated strategic plan for distributing and administering the initial COVID-19 vaccines.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts | Getting the COVID-19 Vaccine

Accreditation Status Table for MTFs

Report
12/10/2020

This document reports the status of accreditation for each MTF

Recommended Content:

TRICARE Health Program

MHS leaders discuss future of military medicine during AMSUS panel

Article
12/9/2020
Military personnel, wearing masks, standing in a line in front of flags

For Dingle, readiness is the key issue during the transition.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | Convalescent Plasma Collection Program | MHS Transformation

DOD Announces COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Plan

Article
12/9/2020
Soldier wearing mask, sitting in front of computer monitors

The Department prioritizes DOD personnel to receive the vaccine based on CDC guidance.

Recommended Content:

Public Health | Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts | Getting the COVID-19 Vaccine

Malmstrom AFB airmen battle COVID-19, execute the mission

Article
12/8/2020
Soldier wearing protective gear leaning into a car to chat with other soldier

"The whole point of public health is to prevent any type of spread."

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus

Pandemic underscores MHS’ need for reform, McCaffery tells AMSUS

Article
12/8/2020
Army soldier gets nose swab

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the MHS had embarked on reforms and initiatives to improve its medical support to the armed services.

Recommended Content:

MHS Transformation | Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts | Operation Warp Speed Vaccine Trials | Getting the COVID-19 Vaccine

Executive Order on Ensuring Access to United States Government COVID-19 Vaccines

Policy

This EO outlines who should receive priority access to COVID-19 vaccines developed in the United States or procured by the United States Government (“United States Government COVID-19 Vaccines”).

<< < 1 2 3 4 5  ... > >> 
Showing results 31 - 45 Page 3 of 37

DHA Address: 7700 Arlington Boulevard | Suite 5101 | Falls Church, VA | 22042-5101

Some documents are presented in Portable Document Format (PDF). A PDF reader is required for viewing. Download a PDF Reader or learn more about PDFs.