How many of you have had a Telehealth appointment - either audio or video - since the COVID-19 pandemic started? I recently gave a presentation via Zoom to a group of about 25 older adults. I used the polling feature to ask if they’ve tried Telehealth and if they liked it. 80% reported that they had used it and thought it was great (the other 20% had not used it yet). Honestly, I was surprised at how many had used it AND liked it. This month’s blog provides some tips to make your Telehealth appointment successful.
Telehealth may transform how healthcare is delivered in the future. It cannot replace every type of clinical visit, but in many cases, it can be just as good as being there in-person — just without the hassle of having to get to a doctor’s office. If the HIPAA rules and insurance reimbursement changes stay in effect even after the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency ends, we’ll all need to get familiar and comfortable with these type of provider appointments.
It’s important to know that Telehealth was always subject to strict HIPAA privacy and confidentiality rules. Any platform used for Telehealth had to be HIPAA-compliant. These HIPAA rules have been relaxed since the Public Health Emergency was put in place; this means that providers and patients are using any form of communication that works, including FaceTime, Google Hangouts, whatever.
Medicare has made some important changes to Telehealth. Currently, any provider who is eligible to bill for Medicare may provide and be reimbursed for services delivered as Telehealth. That includes doctors, nurses, mental health professionals, physical therapists, and more. They can bill patients for usual cost-sharing (co-pays, co-insurance) but they have the option to waive or reduce those fees. Also, the requirement that a patient had to see the provider in the past 3 years in order to have a Telehealth appointment is waived.
Here are some tips to make Telehealth easier and more effective:
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.