Telemedicine is becoming more critical for the health and safety of physicians and their patients. During the COVID-19 pandemic, in-person office visits significantly increase the potential for exposure to the virus for all concerned. Telemedicine, or telehealth, is typically conducted via electronic means, whether that is through a video call or a voice-only telephone call, and enables the provider to maintain social distancing while still interacting in real time, providing quality healthcare services to the patient.
An article published in the American Journal of Managed Care in April 2020, suggests that “telemedicine is poised to address several unique challenges posed by the COVID-19 outbreak.” The article further states that “the CDC, as well as several state public health agencies and numerous industry associations, have indicated that telemedicine systems should be considered as part of healthcare provider coronavirus response systems.”
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has also expanded its coverage of telehealth for Medicare patients, as part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. Changes, as outlined by the American Medical Association (AMA), include:
- Effective March 6 and throughout the national public health emergency, Medicare will pay physicians for telehealth services at the same rate as in-office visits for all diagnoses, not just services related to COVID-19.
- Patients in all settings, including in their home, and across the entire country, not just in rural areas, can receive telehealth services.
- Physicians may provide telehealth services to new and established Medicare patients.
- Physicians can provide telehealth services from their home. The AMA has received clarification from CMS that physicians do not have to add their home to their Medicare enrollment file.
- Physicians licensed in one state can provide services to Medicare beneficiaries in another state. State licensure laws still apply.
As an independent physician, you will need to ensure that you are properly scheduling, completing your patient encounter, and billing for your telehealth services. Elation Health has prepared a Step-by-Step Guide to Telemedicine to help you with implementing the technology in your practice so you can be better prepared to deal with the latest healthcare restrictions and guidelines.
Our team has compiled a list of helpful articles as a guide for you and your practice as well, as you transition through the new healthcare regulations and guidelines. In addition, we have prepared a series of videos to help you learn how to more effectively communicate with your patients, understand the latest COVID-19 billing and telehealth practices, and keep up to date with the latest in eOrdering.
Elation Health continues to work diligently to ensure that you have all the information you need to safely provide quality healthcare for your patients during these challenging times.