In light of the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency, Medicare has temporarily expanded its coverage of telehealth services. These loosened restrictions are intended to increase patient access to healthcare providers, reduce overcrowding at hospitals and health clinics, and lessen unnecessary exposure to COVID-19.
Effective March 6, 2020 and for the duration of the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency, CMS will:
Waive originating site restrictions, meaning patients can receive telehealth services in their homes and other non-clinical settings;
Allow use of smart phones that have audio and video capabilities;
Allow reimbursement for any telehealth covered code, even if unrelated to COVID-19 diagnosis, screening, or treatment; and not enforce the requirement that patients see a provider within the last three years.
In addition, given that many healthcare facility staff members are now working from home and non-essential healthcare visits are limited, telemedicine is an indispensable tool your practice can use at this critical time to continue providing your patients high quality care.
We’ve rounded up some best practices and resources to launch and/or leverage your current telemedicine services during this time:
Be Calm And Considerate
Everyone is experiencing a higher level of stress right now. In all of your communications, encourage your patients to take time to take a break from the news, to take deep breaths, to eat well, sleep well, and exercise.
Reach Out To Major Insurers
Reimbursements for TeleVistis vary from state to state and from one insurance plan to another. Reach out to major insurers for information on their reimbursement policies and verify telemedicine-specific CPT codes and GT modifiers.
Educate Patients On Payment And Insurance Options
Let your patients know how they can pay for TeleVisits and whether their insurance plans reimburse for such visits. If they are a Medicare patient, ensure they are aware of the newly expanded Medicare telemedicine coverage. View state laws and reimbursement policies here.
Send Web-Enabled Patients EMessages
Let your patient know that you offer TeleVisits by reaching out to them digitally.
Record A Message About TeleVisits On Your Office Phone
Work with your office phone company or IT staff to add a special announcement highlighting your telemedicine services. For example, “Thank you for calling “practice name” If you are interested in TeleVisits, please press 7.”
Have Your Staff Download The Healow App
Ensure your staff has the app and knows how to use it so they can guide patients through each step of the process.
Encourage Patients To Download The Healow App
When you and your staff speak with patients, let them know that they can receive care virtually via the healow app. Encourage them to download it and give them instructions on how to join a TeleVisits from the app.
Stay Up-To-Date On The Latest COVID-19 Updates
We suggest checking in with the following resources:
Notification of Enforcement Discretion for Telehealth Remote Communications During COVID-19 Nationwide Public Health Emergency
If you are interested in assistance implementing and promoting the healow TeleVisits at your practice, reach out to your eClinicalWorks account manager, my.eclinicalworks.com or contact us.