Preparing Your Practice for Telehealth Services

Preparing Your Practice for Telehealth Services

Role of Telehealth During COVID-19

Telehealth has proved to be an effective option to fight the outbreak of COVID-19. Telehealth services played a major role in preventing, diagnosing, treating, and controlling diseases during the COVID-19 outbreak. Even though an extended COVID-19 public health emergency (PHE) is scheduled for April 16, 2022, policymakers are thinking about extending telehealth flexibilities on a permanent basis. As a healthcare service provider, if you are not offering telehealth services then you might be missing out on something big. This article covers the basics of telehealth and useful information which would be useful for preparing your practice for telehealth services.

Basics of Telehealth

Telehealth, sometimes referred to as telemedicine, is the use of electronic information and telecommunications technologies to extend care when the provider and the patient aren’t in the same place at the same time. Technologies for telehealth include videoconferencing, store-and-forward imaging, streaming media, and terrestrial and wireless communications. Telehealth services may be billed and paid differently, depending on the payer/insurer and provider’s geographic location.

Telehealth provides various benefits including continuity of care; extending access to care beyond normal hours; overcoming clinician shortages, especially among rural and other underserved populations; providing support for patients managing chronic health conditions; screening patients with symptoms of COVID-19 and referring as appropriate; and enable patients who are vulnerable to COVID-19 to continue receiving medical care safely.

Telehealth is more appropriate for general wellness; management of chronic care; discussion of test results; counseling about diagnostic and therapeutic options; dermatology; prescription of medicine; nutrition counseling; and mental health counseling. Telehealth is less appropriate for health concerns that require procedure; abdominal pain; eye complaints, gynecologic complaints, dental complaints; highly nuanced or multiple complex health problems; and any situation in which a physical exam would change your recommendation.

Types of Telehealth

Live video

Also referred to as ‘real-time;’ a two-way, face-to-face interaction between a patient and a provider using audiovisual communications technology

Store-and-forward

Remote evaluation of recorded video and/or images submitted by an established patient

E-visits

Non-face-to-face patient-initiated communications through an online patient portal

Remote patient monitoring

Use of digital technologies to collect health data from patients in one location and electronically transmit that information securely to providers in a different location (data can include vital signs, weight, blood pressure, blood sugar, pacemaker information, etc.)

Audio-only visits

Use of telephone for visits without video

Mobile health (mHealth)

Allows patients to review their personal health data via mobile devices, such as cell phones and tablet computers, which can be done from their home and assists in communicating their health status and any changes; often includes the use of dedicated application software (apps), which are downloaded onto devices

Case-based teleconferencing

Method of providing holistic, coordinated, and integrated services across providers; usually interdisciplinary, with one or multiple internal and external providers and, if possible and appropriate, the client and family members/close supports

Preparing Your Practice for Telehealth Services

While you are preparing your practice for telehealth services following FAQs would be a good point to start:

  • When you’ll be available for telehealth appointments
  • What services you’ll offer
  • How patients will schedule appointments
  • How you’ll access the information you need for each patient visit
  • Who will greet the patient first when they join the visit, for example, you may want a medical assistant to ask some initial questions before you join
  • How you’ll get consent from patients
  • How you’ll support patients who have limited English proficiency
  • How you’ll support patients living with disabilities, such as hearing loss or visual impairment
  • How you’ll facilitate access to telehealth for all your patients and ensure they get the most out of their visit
  • How you’ll support a caregiver or another person who needs to assist a patient during the telehealth visit
  • How you’ll obtain payment after a visit
  • Who will monitor the sustainability and long-term success of your telehealth program and adapt or modify the services based on patient’s needs and your resources/capacity

Talk with Patient about Telehealth

  • Share the benefits of telehealth relevant to them. For example, explain how it reduces their exposure to COVID-19, is more convenient, and saves time
  • Help them identify the equipment they have available for telehealth. Let them know that audio-only visits are available (if you provide them).
  • Explain how their personal information will be protected
  • Offer information to patients who may not be able to afford the cost of internet or phone services about other options or resources to help.
  • Encourage them to check with their health insurance about how telehealth is being covered. If they are Medicare beneficiaries, let them know that CMS has expanded coverage of telehealth for Medicare beneficiaries.
  • You may receive pushback from some patients who aren’t interested in using telehealth. Listen to their concerns and let them know telehealth may be an option if they change their mind

Medisys Data Solutions is a leading medical billing company providing complete billing and coding services for various medical billing specialties. We can assist you in receiving accurate insurance reimbursement for telehealth services. To know more about our telehealth billing services, contact us at info@medisysdata.com / 302-261-9187

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