Hopefully you have gone through the quick guide on telemedicine modalities and what you can bill for here. Most providers do not really know that they can also bill for virtual checkins.
This service can be provided by a physician to a new or established patient, parent, or guardian. This cannot be originating from a related E/M service provided within the previous seven days. This cannot also be leading to an E/M service or procedure within the next 24 hours or soonest available appointment.
This can include patient initiated phone calls OR image/video sent by patient and reviewed asynchronously by the provider
Barriers to offering virtual check-ins
First of all, most practices shy away from telling patients that they can access their doctors via the patient portal or a patient app. The biggest reason for this being that providers are worried that patients will badger them at all hours of the day.
That’s simply not true. Your patient portal or a patient app is a GREAT way to increase patient access. Increasing patient access has an undeniably high impact on patient satisfaction and getting more reviews. This has a direct effect on your medical marketing. It’s all inter-related.
Steps to take towards offering virtual check-ins
The first step to take is to let your providers know that they can bill for telecheckins / virtual checkins.
The next step is to make sure that when patients call in to “speak to the doctor”, each patient is given an appointment that’s on the schedule/calendar for the provider. Some providers prefer to make all the patient calls at the end of the day or in a set block of time. That’s perfectly OK to do – go ahead and schedule those patient phone calls.
The provider can call the patient from the office line (so that the patient doesn’t know the provider’s direct phone number), or can use *69 and dial the patient’s phone number (although, that leads to patients not picking up the call as it is an unidentified number) or they can use a messaging app. Regardless, the provider does not have to worry about patients finding out their direct phone number.
Ideally, the provider calls the patient using a telemedicine solution. This ensures that the phone call durations are documented for audit purposes. It also helps the billing department gets the necessary billing information. Finally, the phone calls are scheduled and sync with the EMR, therefore helping your patient contact center.
The right technology vendor solves it
Try to find a vendor with an integrated solution for phone calls, telehealth, secure messaging (e.g. Werq Telemed). This truly helps as your patient can simply use the patient app (e.g. Werq Patients) and write to you, send images or videos of their issue or you can hop on a call with the patient as well.
Your provider can also bill for the time spent in evaluating any image/video sent by patient and reviewed asynchronously by the provider. As long as it is patient initiated, you are good to go. Make the right telemedicine technology vendor choice and you can very well make telemedicine a profitable line of service.