Telehealth Quick Start In Response To The COVID - 19 Situation
The COVID-19 situation is requiring many practices to rethink the way they run their businesses. Starting a telehealth solution is a vital first step that will provide supplemental income to offset your declining in-person patient visits. We’ve included a list of the most frequently asked question below to help you determine if a telehealth program is right for your practice:
What payors/insurances are recognizing telehealth services? Are these services reimbursable?
Many payors have adopted and more are in process of adopting flexible payment policies for telehealth services including: Medicare, Anthem BCBS, Blue Shield, Providence St Joseph Health, Medi-Cal / CalOptima, Aetna, and Kaiser.
What technology do I need to start seeing patients virtually?
First, you will need a phone or mobile device to begin this program. An “e-visit”, a patient initiated digital communication that requires clinical decision making can be as simple as a telephone call, but as of today, to get reimbursed for a full E/M visit you need a device with video and audio capabilities – that means using a webcam or mobile device. Webcams are currently in short supply, but may be found at smaller on-line retailers as they are generally out of stock at larger on-line retailers. As the situation with COVID-19 is rapidly changing, Medicare and other payors are considering payor policy exceptions that would allow telephone communication with patients without video and be reimbursed as a full E/M visit but that has not yet transpired.
For a complete telehealth program, you need a software application that enables you to connect with your patients. As a starting point, check with your existing EHR vendor to understand what their capabilities are. If your vendor doesn’t have a solution or you need to move more quickly - you can use any existing technology that has audio and video capabilities. Technologies such as Skype and Facetime can also be utilized now because security and compliance exceptions have been waived during the COVID-19 emergency period though they may lack features needed to support an effective workflow. Standalone solutions with a complete feature set such virtual patient waiting rooms, live chat, and meeting history are also available immediately at a reasonable cost – these solutions are a great investment to ensure your practice is running optimally.
Lastly, dual monitors are highly beneficial to ensure you are able to utilize your EHR system while virtually connected to the patient.
Are there special billing requirements?
Payor requirements vary, but generally claims need to indicate a Place of Service (POS Code) 02-Teleheath and a 95 or GT modifier. If MSM is your billing partner we’ll take care of all the claim and reimbursement related details.
Will my operation need to change to accommodate telehealth visits? Your existing workflow should be the same; document in your EHR just as you normally would for in-person visits. Procedures for virtual paperwork should be established to ensure that patient intake documentation is completed before the telehealth visit. We recommend rehearsing the process internally before you start seeing these patients.
How can I get started?
Establish a qualified team to be in charge of your telehealth initiative. Start by developing an action plan and most importantly notify your patient base that you are available for this service. Utilize email, text, or phone calls for this communication.
How can MSM help?
It is MSM’s mission to support and to keep private physician practices thriving as they are a crucial part of our healthcare delivery system. We believe being agile during these uncertain times and aiding practices in the deployment of telehealth solutions will aid in accomplishing that goal.
MSM is able and ready to support your telehealth initiatives. Whether that be providing answers to specific telehealth questions or quickly developing and deploying a new program from the ground up. As the situation with COVID-19 is rapidly changing, MSM is monitoring payor policy changes daily and can advise clients to shift operations as needed. Feel free to reach out directly to me and I will pair you with a practice consultant to recommend the right solution for your specific situation. We are proud to support our medical providers at this unprecedented time, we are all in this together.