Telemedicine is gradually increasing its reach throughout the United States. As a healthcare practitioner, you need to know as much as you can about the service and how to implement it. There are currently two main telemedicine solution options.
The Advantages of Telemedicine
Standalone VS EHR Integrated Telemedicine
- Standalone options: This system allows you to continue to use your current EHR system while providing a separate telemedicine system.
- EHR integrated systems: This seamlessly integrates telemedicine solutions with your existing EHR system.
Types of Telemedicine Services
Telehealth services are distinguished from healthcare in general because they utilize technology to provide medical services remotely. Telemedicine services include:
- Video consultation: A face-to-face chat with a physician using video technology combined with the internet. Laptops, tablets, computers, or smartphones are ways video consultations can be performed.
- Virtual check-up: A 5-10 minute phone chat with a healthcare provider.
- E-visit: A virtual appointment with a healthcare provider via a patient portal.
- Mobile health: Secure internet texting with a healthcare provider.
- Remote patient monitoring: The use of technology to collect patient data and transmit it to other treatment team members. The other team members may be in different locations.
- Secure email: Sending medical records or test results to patients or other practitioners over a secure server.
Critical Considerations for Practices Implementing Telehealth
If you are new to telemedicine and just thinking about implementing it, here are some things to bear in mind:
- State requirements: This is an essential aspect of telehealth because regulations vary from state to state. For example, physicians using telemedicine in California must be licensed to practice in that state.
- Patient consent: You will need to check your state regulations to determine if you need written permission from your patient or if verbal is enough. In some states, you may also need to obtain consent from or inform any of the patient’s beneficiaries.
- Privacy and security: You will need to make sure you have fully functioning hardware. You will also need a telehealth software solution that is secure and fully HIPPA compliant. Zoom and other general communication platforms, such as FaceTime and Skype, are not secure.
According to Metova’s Recent Telemedicine Survey
If given the option, patient would choose telemedicine for their next consultation
Patient wanted to connect with a physicians using video conferencing
Would find it useful if their medical practitioners or insurance company provided medical equipment to ensure a more productive telemedicine appointment.
Patients say that at least some of their past medical visits could have been done virtually
How do Telehealth Visits Work?
Many practitioners use their existing tablets or laptop for a virtual visit. As long as you have strong internet access, a secure environment, and compliant software, you are good to go. You arrange an appointment with a patient and then call them at the appropriate time. A telehealth visit is typically reimbursed at the same rate as an in-office visit for the same medical service type.
Common Features of Telemedicine Software
There are currently several telemedicine software programs on the market. So, choosing one can be overwhelming. Before you make a decision, here are some essential features:
- HIPPA compliance: You can’t treat patients legally if your software is not HIPPA compliant. Check with the platform provider to make sure that the software meets all the required standards.
- Business associate agreement: As well as meeting requirements, your telemedicine software provider must also sign a business associate agreement. The agreement states that the provider will store patient information on their server and protect it.
- A cloud-based solution: Most telemedicine platforms are cloud-based. This means you don’t have to worry about downloading cumbersome software. It also makes it easier for your software company to provide you will regular updates.
- Triage solutions: When you initiate your telemedicine service, consider how you can ensure it reaches the right patients. Having a built-in triage solution can help with this. It keeps your patients safe and makes sure no one misses out on the telehealth they need.
- Regular support: Whichever telemedicine platform you decide to use, the company providing it should offer 24/7 support. That support should also be available as and when you need it. For example, you can’t afford to wait around for even a few seconds if you are trying to contact a patient virtually. Look for proactive support features like appointment reminders, connection testing, and live help for healthcare providers and staff.
Types of Support Offered by Telemedicine
Telemedicine lends itself to a wide range of healthcare applications such as the assessment and treatment of:
- Colds, flu, and allergies
- Back and neck pain
- Heartburn and GERD
- Nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea
But it is also useful for many areas of medical specialism, including:
- Mental Illness
- Sports medicine
What equipment do you need for telemedicine?
The basics are:
- A computer, laptop, or tablet with good internet access
- Video equipment or an in-built webcam
- An adequate power supply
What place of service code is for telemedicine?
The place of service code for telehealth is 02.
Do healthcare practitioners need special credentials to practice telemedicine?
Any licensed practitioner can use telehealth programs. This includes MDs, RNs, NPs, and PAs. Most states require you to be fully licensed in the state within which you are offering telehealth services.
Is telehealthcare the same quality as an in-person visit?
There are several decades of research to confirm the high quality of telemedicine. Telehealth is safe, secure, and cost-effective it also increases patient engagement and satisfaction. Other advantages include reducing overheads, better patient-provider communication, and increased patient volume.
Will insurance pay for telemedicine?
Yes, in most cases. There are now laws in 26 states requiring insurers to pay for telemedicine visits. Even in states without these regulations, many insurers voluntarily pay for telehealth treatments. Furthermore, most state Medicaid plans cover various telemedicine services. Each state has its requirements. Medicare covers certain telemedicine services, such as some remote cardiology, pathology, and radiology services.
How do I get reimbursed for telemedicine?
The best way to get reimbursed for telemedicine services is to outsource your billing to a medical billing company. Their staff will be familiar with your state regulations and billing codes, so you won’t have to worry about getting it right or bills being paid late.