Changes in the way that health care is delivered during this pandemic are needed to reduce staff exposure to the sick, preserve personal protective equipment (PPE), and minimize the impact of patient surges on facilities. Telehealth offers the ability to continue caring for their patients, with and without COVID-19. In order, to lessen exposure of patients who are sick or at-risk due to other conditions, as well as protect the healthcare workers and community. Practices are strongly encouraged to use telehealth whenever possible. Now in a full state of emergency, many Medicare restrictions related to telehealth have been lifted. You can visit https://www.cms.gov/files/document/03092020-covid-19-faqs-508.pdf for more information.
Medicare is allowing practices to waive copays and deductibles for all telehealth services. Many prior authorization activities are placed on hold. Patients can be at home and on non-HIPAA compliant technology. There is no cost-sharing for COVID-19 testing. Medicaid and Medicare providers will now be reimbursed at the same rate for virtual care as they would for in-person consultations. Legislators are also looking for ways to expand access to broadband internet, so more patients can access these services.
There are 3 Telehealth Modalities:
- Synchronous: This includes real-time telephone or live audio-video interaction typically with a patient using a smartphone, tablet, or computer.
- In some cases, peripheral medical equipment (e.g., digital stethoscopes, otoscopes, ultrasounds) can be used by another HCP (e.g., nurse, medical assistant) physically with the patient, while the consulting medical provider conducts a remote evaluation.
- Asynchronous: This includes “store and forward” technology where messages, images, or data are collected at one point in time and interpreted or responded to later. Patient portals can facilitate this type of communication between provider and patient through secure messaging.
- Remote patient monitoring: This allows direct transmission of a patient’s clinical measurements from a distance (may or may not be in real-time) to their healthcare provider.
Visit https://www.aap.org/en-us/Documents/coding_factsheet_telemedicine.pdf for info on how to bill your telehealth claims.