In telemedicine, you can consult for other providers to help their patients – either via phone calls or via reading images and videos sent over (store and forward) by the other provider (provider’s office). This is reserved for provider to provider.
It involves telephone or internet based “assessment and management” service provided by a consulting physician to the patient’s treating/requesting physician or other qualified health care professional.
To get paid, you need to include a verbal and a written report.
When can you use this?
Based on the maturity of your health system/hospital, you can offer MANY of these services.
Teleretinal Screenings – A PCP office could very easily send retinal scans of their diabetic patients to an ophthalmologist in their referral network to determine diabetic retinopathy and whether the patient should be sent to the specialist as a referral or not.
Teleradiology has been around for a while. Typically store and forward technologies are used to offer coverage from board certified radiologists to facilities without specific radiologist coverage. This service becomes even more critical when sub-specialist radiologist coverage is needed.
You can find a more comprehensive list here.
Why is this not as prevalent?
Lack of knowledge and billing confusions! In addition to that, the originating site needs to purchase the equipment, while they do not understand how they will get reimbursed for this investment.
The return on investment of the equipment purchase has never been made clear to the originating sites.
How to market inter-professional consultations to referring partners?
You need to market telehealth services! There’s no two ways around that.
Take an example of an FQHC that might have multiple sites. Typically, an FQHC cannot afford a top rated ophthalmologist. For an FQHC, most of their patients’ needs go beyond simple optometry. These patients need an MD to treat their medical issues. In addition to this, for most primary care settings, the CDC HEDIS measure is typically the lowest scoring one.
If the ophthalmology group has retinal specialists and a good medical marketing team, they could very easily run a fax or email based marketing campaign each month to all FQHCs and PCP offices in town.
The great thing about telemedicine and inter-professional consults is that your referring partner/provider office does not have to be anywhere near your offices. Most practices do not even leverage this opportunity.
All a practice needs to do is to:
- Choose the right technology vendor (e.g. retinalscreenings, werq telemedicine etc)
- Create a one page marketing material announcing the service offering
- Send a fax blast to all primary care settings in town
- Send a slightly modified version of the marketing material to all ancillary specialties that are clustered around a specific disease (e.g. all specialists associated with diabetic care)
- Include a contact number or email for the fax/email recipients to call back on and to ask questions.
- Train one person extensively on answering all the questions that the caller might have about billing, equipment needed, turn around time (TAT) etc.
Store and forward for inter-professional consultations alone can generate decent sized revenues for any practice/specialist.