As technology continues to advance, it's become clear that telemedicine is the future of patient care. As this trend continues to emerge, it's important to stay up to date on all of the rules and regulations if you want to be successful. By learning how to integrate telemedicine into your medical practice early on, you'll have a head start when it finally does become standard across the board.
How Telemedicine Works
To start a telemedicine program at your office, you'll probably want to partner with one of the major telemedicine providers in the country, such as Doctor on Demand, HealthTap, American Well, MDLive, or Teladoc. These providers offer the platform through which your doctors perform visits. Even better, for times when you aren't available, patients will be able to see a doctor employed by the telemedicine service.
In order to make the service effective, you may want to set aside time for online appointments only. However, because much of telemedicine is on-demand, it's also possible to create a virtual waiting room, where patients can sit in a queue until the doctor has time to see them.
The Georgia Telemedicine Act of 2005 mandated that insurance companies must pay for telemedicine visits, making it much easier for your billing office to get things done. Typically, visits will cost patients between $40 to $50 each, but your practice will end up earning about $25 after the telemedicine provider fees.
Because telemedicine visits are done remotely, it's more convenient for both the doctor and the patient. The patient does not have to waste time traveling to the doctor's office, while the doctor can more efficiently manage their time and see a greater number of patients in a day. It's also a great way to curate new patients, as they may be more willing to test you out as a doctor virtually rather than making the trek in person.
Georgia Telemedicine Rules
The state of Georgia does have its own unique regulations regarding telemedicine, so it's important you follow them to stay out of trouble. Here are some of the highlights of the regulation to get you started.
You Must See the Patient In-Person First
Generally, the law requires you to see a patient in-person before switching over to telemedicine visits. However, there are some exceptions, which include:
- The telemedicine visit will be equal or superior to an in-person exam
- The visit is being conducted at the request of an APRN, PA, or other physician who has already examined the patient in-person
- The visit is being conducted at the request of a school nurse, law enforcement, community mental health center, or other child advocacy center in order to protect a child
You Must Have a Georgia Medical License
While this rule might be obvious, it's still important to point out that you have to be licensed by the state of Georgia in order to provide telemedicine visits. This includes physicians, APRNs, and PAs.
You Must Have the Patient's Records
Whenever the visit occurs, you must have the patient's records on-hand so you can consult them throughout. It's also important to document the visit in its entirety so that it can be updated in the medical records and sent to the referring practitioner.
You Must Try to See the Patient
The state requires the patient to make "diligent efforts" to see their doctor in person at least once a year.
When you're ready to curate your telemedicine practice, know that M-Scribe Technologies, LLC can assist you. We'll be able to use our experience in medical coding, claims billing, and auditing experience to make sure everything is going smoothly on the back end. Just call 770-666-0470 or send an email to get started.