Even during COVID, we noticed that many practices are not offering telemedicine services. Our position has remained that it is unacceptable to not offer telemedicine services to your patients. Before COVID, there were confusions around reimbursements and hence most patient access strategies did not include telemedicine services. However, with CMS opening up the floodgates around telemedicine during COVID, there’s simply no reason not to see patients through telemedicine.
Deciding to take the leap and implement one or more variants of telemedicine in a practice is a big decision to make. We understand that. However, it is not a very complicated decision to make.
There are costs incurred, training that must be undertaken, and there is likely also the concern that patients won’t respond well to it.
These are all valid and good concerns for a practice to have; their business is to provide high quality, efficiently delivered care to patients, and if it isn’t done to a certain degree of satisfaction, patients are apt to look elsewhere for their care.
How to make a decision?
Even if you create a simple spreadsheet with the average reimbursements per telmedicine modality, you can very easily see how much you can get reimbursed per provider.
The best part? You do not need to invest in an expensive office space for the same nor purchase any office equipment for it. All you need is a computer and a good internet connection. That’s it. You can reserve your office space usage to in office procedures or higher paying patient visits.
Take a look at your practice’s strategic goals for the next few years to see what telemedicine modality will make the most sense.
e.g. Are you in primary care practice looking to fully embrace PCMH? Perhaps then extending hours through e-visits might be a good test case.
e.g. A dermatology practice may look at store-and-forward.
e.g.A cardiology practice that is part of an ACO may look at partnering with the ACO on a remote monitoring initiative.
As with any project – and especially an IT project – there will be hurdles and frustrations; nevertheless, telemedicine has thus shown promise to increase efficiency and lower some costs in healthcare, and its consideration ought to be part of any practice’s strategic planning discussions.
FQHCs and RHCs – can they offer telehealth services?
CARES act (link here) is actually allowing FQHCs and RHCs a lot more flexibility than before. If you are an FQHC/RHC, you can be both the originating site or the distant site. This means that your patients can be at your location, receiving treatment from another provider facility. Vice versa, your providers can provide telehealth services to patients at another facility.
Before this act, you were limited about the location / origin. Now you are not.
Do keep in mind that you will not be paid the PPS rate – you will get reimbursed on an FFS rate instead. You are now allowed to use virtual checks and CCM tools.
However, point to note is that you are not allowed to use eConsults. Let’s get into how to deploy a telehealth strategy for your practice.