All you need to know guide for providing Telehealth Services

All you need to know guide for providing Telehealth Services

Table of Contents

This post got way too long and we just kept adding to it to make sure we had a comprehensive resource for practices looking to find out about Telehealth. Please use this table of content to jump down to the section you want information on.

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Telehealth is here to stay

I think we all agree that we will have to learn living with the threat of a virus going around. COVID-19 has resulted in widespread shutdowns and in some cases, paranoia. Social distancing seems to be a norm and with the currently ongoing COVID-19 situation, the acceptance and the need for remote healthcare options has skyrocketed. With most of the population staying home, practices are ramping up their online self-service capabilities. 

Additionally, telehealth opens a whole new landscape for your practice business. Many practices find that they are able to reach and maintain many new patients by offering televisits. Telehealth makes your practice feel more favorable to patients and gives you an astounding return-on-investment down the line. 

What are Telehealth Services?

Telehealth is the opportunity to use technology to provide clinical services to patients in the comfort of their homes and reduced exposure to the patient and provider’s office. By definition, it is the use of audio and visual technologies to provide services remotely.

Telehealth services can span a variety of medical fields, behavioral health, internal medicine, dermatology, occupational therapy, speech therapy, etc. The term “telehealth” itself encompasses a multitude of different services. The main characteristic of any telehealth service is that it is technologically-based and can be utilized from anywhere.

The current boom in telehealth has been a necessity for not only people wishing for COVID-19 testing, but also for those with other health issues. 

Billing your Insurance for Telehealth services

From a Billing and reimbursements – critical to receive money from Insurance payors –  the definition is when you use Place of Service as “02” or Virtual and Modifier used is “95” (Commercial insurers) or “GT” (for some state medicaid plans). Note that a telephone call with a patient does not qualify as a Telehealth visit.

Providing Telehealth Services: What Are Your Options?

Telehealth comes with a lot of benefits for your practice. However, the results can vary depending on how you go about the process. Luckily, you have a few options at your disposal. 

A. If you drive your own marketing to get clients or convert your existing patients to telehealth:

  1. Find out if your EMR offers telehealth EMR module/ add -on (Option 1 below)
  2. Devise your own ways of implementing telehealth alongside your EMR (Option 2 below)

B. Use a platform and get new patient referrals in addition to providing your own brand of Telehealth service:

  1. Sign up with a telehealth platform (Option 3 below)

Option 1: Telehealth Services EMR Module Add-on

Most practices have an EMR to manage all their patient records, workflows, and other administrative tasks. Almost every EMR software now allows an add-on (most of them are an additional fee) for  telehealth services. 

 

An EMR that is compatible with a telehealth application allows for less siloing in your practice. In other words, it’s easier to manage when records from telehealth platforms can directly feed into your EMR. There’s no need to manually enter data, or risk extra work and duplication of records.

advantage

Advantages

Keeps your current EMR as the system of record without introducing a new system and a process

Disadvantage

Disadvantages

Many EMR’s add on fee is quite high and not everyone may see value in that fee

Option 2: Integrate Telehealth Services using 3rd Party Tools

Another way to provide telehealth services is by using common telecommunication applications. In this case, the software on which you conduct your telehealth services is conducive to your standard of care. Fortunately, there’s a ton of applications out there, for both casual and professional telecommunication.

3rd Party Apps for Providing Telehealth Services

The following apps are all endorsed as HIPAA-compliant, meaning both parties (the provider and the patient) are in a business associate agreement if setup correctly.

Google Hangouts Meet for Business:

As a part of the G Suite for healthcare, Google Hangouts Meet is a tool made to drive productivity and high-quality patient care. Because it integrates securely with other Google apps, it’s possible to store patient documents and video messages, without the heavy restrictions of an EMR. Patients just need to sign up on G Suite, and all their information is disclosed via Google forms and organized on Google Sheets. Google hangouts is included in GSuite for Business which offers plans for as low as $6 per user per month and includes all of the other GSuite Products.

Zoom for Healthcare

As one of the more common video conferencing apps out there, Zoom is user-friendly and accessible to patients. The app aims to deliver high-standard mode of telehealth communication, despite low internet connectivity. Additionally, it can connect to your personal medical software, like EHR and medical monitoring devices. Zoom offers many free plans, but look out specifically for Zoom for Healthcare plan, which is the only plan where you can sign a BAA with Zoom and offers HIPAA compliant solution. 

Zoom for Healthcare offers plans at $200 a month, which includes a maximum of 10 providers. As of May 2020, Zoom is offering a 20% discount on annual plans, making the cost $160 per month for up to 10 providers.

Microsoft Skype for Business (Now Teams)

Microsoft recently rebranded Skype for business as Microsoft Teams. This platform is for general business calls and meetings, without a specific telehealth purpose. Teams is available as a part of Microsoft 365 which comes in many