As the country continues to deal with the public health emergency that’s come with the COVID-19 pandemic, telehealth is offering an excellent way for practices across the country to care for patients. Telemedicine – used for those with and without the coronavirus – offers the ability to protect high-risk patients, healthcare workers, and the entire community from the spread of the virus.
Since we’re now in a full state of emergency, multiple telehealth restrictions have now been lifted. Patients can see physicians from their home and it’s even possible to use non-HIPAA compliant technology to implement the use of telemedicine on a broad scale faster. Of course, the quick change to telemedicine services has been difficult for many practices, particularly with the constant changes regarding the payment requirements for visits and newly released codes for coronavirus related services.
As you face the constant changes and challenges affecting practices during COVID-19, having an experienced medical billing and coding company by your side can help you navigate this time successfully.
Telehealth Guidelines Continue to Change During the COVID-19 Outbreak
Over the past four to six weeks, telehealth guidelines have continued to change regularly. Many of the Medicare restrictions surrounding the use of telehealth services have now been lifted during this pandemic. Just a few of the key changes include:
- Physicians will be paid by Medicare for audio-only telephone calls and telehealth services covered have expanded greatly and now even include emergency department visits.
- As of March 1, 2020, and continuing through this public health emergency, physicians will be paid by Medicare for telemedicine services at the same rate as traditional in-person visits, whether the service is related to COVID-19 or not.
- Medical screening exams (MSEs) can now be performed via telehealth visits.
- Telehealth services can now be utilized for both established and new patients.
- Cost-sharing can be waived or reduced for telemedicine visits.
- Physicians are now permitted to provide telehealth services to patients from their own homes.
- Established relationships with a patient are no longer a requirement for providing telehealth services.
- Flexibility for telehealth services is now offered so non-HIPPA compliant applications like Skype or FaceTime can be used during this pandemic.
New Codes are Being Introduced
Many medical practices are already getting used to using the codes for telemedicine services while dealing with the COVID-19 crisis. Along the way, new codes are being introduced for the treatment of COVID-19, as well. New codes have been introduced regularly over the past few weeks, and it’s often difficult for practices to keep up with the implementation of unfamiliar telemedicine codes as well as these new coronavirus-related codes.
Which coronavirus code should be used and when? You’re already fighting a pandemic and outsourcing your billing and coding can help you deal with patients as the company handles the coding for you. A quality medical billing and coding company will be well-versed in all the latest changes, ensuring that coding is handled correctly to ensure you get paid for the services you provide during the coronavirus outbreak.
Keep Non-Essential Personnel Out of the Office
While social distancing is keeping many people at home these days, if you have on-site billing and coding personnel, they may be coming into the office because they need to use the office-based software to handling the billing and coding needs of the office. Keeping as many people at home as possible is essential to stopping the spread of the virus right now, and outsourcing your billing and coding can provide an excellent way for you to keep non-essential personnel out of your office while ensuring billing and coding is handled efficiently to keep your practice going through this crisis.
Focus on Patients When Hosting Care in a Virtual Environment
Providing care to patients is changing right now, and instead of offering in-office care, many practices are now caring for patients via telehealth visits. Just a few of the American Medical Association-suggested tips for good etiquette during a telehealth visit include:
- Ensuring you have a private environment to ensure patient privacy.
- Having the correct equipment, including microphone, web cam, high-speed internet, headphones, and dual screens for note taking (EHR documentation)
- Wearing professional attire as you would in person.
- Turning off other notifications.
- Reviewing the patient’s records and complaints before the call takes place.
- Ensuring webcams are adjusted to offer eye contact to patients.
- Speak deliberately and clearly so patients can fully understand you.
- Use empathetic language to show that you care about your patient’s needs.
- Show that you are listening by the use of nonverbal language and by repeating back things your patients say to you.
While you’re a professional at dealing with your patients, doing patient visits in a virtual environment proves to be a bit different. It’s important that you have the time needed to focus on your patients so you can care for them appropriately during the coronavirus outbreak.
By outsourcing your billing and coding, you have the chance to put all your focus on your patients and transforming your office to a place that offers telehealth services. The entire world has changed within the past couple of months, and the way care is offered has changed along with it. Now is the time you need to focus all of your attention on providing the care patients need while you have a quality billing and coding company working with you to deal with all your billing and coding needs.
When you outsource your practice’s billing and coding to M-Scribe.com, you can know that your practice has a partner during these challenging times. Our professionals are up-to-date on the latest telehealth guidelines, coronavirus codes, and can ensure that your practice gets paid for the telemedicine services you’re providing to patients. More than ever, we need to work together to offer quality patient care and stop the spread of COVID-19, and M-Scribe.com is partnering with practices around the country to make that happen. Contact us today to learn more about our billing and coding services.