How to thrive with telemedicine
Telemedicine is booming business. Analysts at Forrester Research predict by the end of 2020, there will have been over one billion virtual healthcare visits in the U.S. Much of that demand came from social distancing parameters put in place from the COVID-19 pandemic. Yet, virtual care can continue to be a value-add for your patients even now, after some restrictions have lifted.
It's important to set your practice up for success with reimbursement. Do you wonder what you need to know in order to bill for telemedicine? Do you wonder what technology you will need? What about how to create a better patient experience?
Many practices may believe they are billing for telehealth the right way, but are you actually setting yourself up for lower payments? Ask yourself these questions to ensure you are appropriately reimbursed as you deliver care remotely.
Questions to ask before offering telemedicine
- What services we will offer under telemedicine?
- Have I checked with my malpractice insurance carrier to see if I am covered for offering telemedicine? If not, what steps do I need to take to be covered?
- Do the commercial insurers I accept cover telemedicine?
- Have I reviewed my payer contracts? How do payers want telemedicine billed? What is the fee schedule?
Questions to ask when choosing technology for telemedicine
- Do I know what modes of communication commercial payers and Medicare currently accept for telemedicine?
- Do I need to buy any new software?
- Are scheduling staff, billing staff and providers all trained on how to use the software?
Questions to ask when analyzing impact on workflow
- Are all providers in my practice going to offer telemedicine appointments?
- What are the specific times I can schedule telemedicine appointments?
- Does my telemedicine software provide a telehealth scheduling template?
- Will we use a specific area where a quiet, professional visit can occur?
- Is the area well-lit and is the patient's field of vision, both behind and around the provider, conducive to clear communication with direct eye contact?
- What equipment—integrated or external camera, microphone, speakers— will be used? Does the office have adequate internet speed?
Questions to ask when preparing to bill for telemedicine
- Is my team trained and up to date on the latest regulations? Have we created a process for continued education?
- For Medicare telemedicine, do we know where to find info on which billing codes to use?
- Am I taking full advantage of my practice management software? Does my EMR pre-populate with the correct billing codes?
- Do I know what telemedicine services currently incur patient costs? How will I keep my billing staff up to date on any changes?
Questions to ask about creating a better patient experience with telemedicine
- What does the patient experience with telemedicine look like? Is it accessible? Is it user-friendly?
- What can we do to better engage with patients? Do we need to better educate patients on options like virtual check-ins?
- What can we do to provide better care to patients unable to leave their homes?
- Have we properly informed patients on their copay and coinsurance obligations for telemedicine visits?
- Have we created a script for my office staff to answer frequently asked questions (for example, why patients still need to pay a co-pay)?
- Do patients understand they will leave a telemedicine session with a care plan that could include diagnostic tests and/or prescriptions, just like an in-person appointment?
Answer these questions to put your practice on the path to profitable telemedicine offerings and virtual visits that leave patients feeling confident in the care they're receiving.