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Making telehealth successful for the Solo Physician

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Making telehealth successful for the Solo Physician

Technology has transformed lifestyles and the way we work. Telehealth, which uses digital technologies for the delivery of healthcare, helps save time and money and offers remote healthcare delivery to people who lack access. Telehealth is proving to be a blessing, especially now, in the times of the COVID-19. Treating patients, while everyone stays home and maintains social distancing, is possible with tele health via video consultations or even the phone.

Although time and cost savings are significant, and it’s the best option really in these times, telehealth is not free of challenges. The first and foremost challenge is the lack of personal touch. Secondly, not all the diagnoses can be online. Thirdly, as the patients fill up the information form online, fabrication or misunderstandings are known to happen. Unlike in your clinic, there is no admin to double check the information provided.

Lastly, different US states have different laws and the regulations that guide telemedicine billing are very dynamic. The guidelines also vary depending on the patient being a private payer or covered under Medicare or Medicaid.

However, as we write this blog, many states have amended laws to provide re-imbursements for COVID-19 treatments and telehealth, making it easier for physicians and patients.

Success factors for the solo practice

If you’re using telehealth or considering it, you need a solid and secure platform with the right features and then the right partner to make sure of re-imbursements.

Technology: With the rising trend of telemedicine, the need for a flexible and user-friendly technology is inevitable. As you engage your patients from the comfort of your home, two-way video conferencing and a sophisticated billing platform results in a high-quality experience for both the parties. Ensure that a device (computer, tablet or phone), external camera, external microphone and the headphones make the top rows of your tech checklist.

Essential features: Although the telemedicine platform features vary, the basics like privacy must be in place along with medical billing and EHR features that make it a complete package.

  • Real-time video conferencing duplicates the experience of in-person visit.
  • Chat functionality allows real-time communication between both the parties. A constant written communication flow rules out the possibility of misunderstandings.
  • Allowing patients to upload and share images (reports, X-Ray, MRI), Electronic review of the test results and summaries of previous visits is another important feature that compliments the diagnosis.
  • Electronic health records integration allows e-documentation of the video consultation along with the audio or visual notes.
  • Billing integration allows charging, claiming and reimbursement much quicker and gives you a view.
  • ePrescription allows the electronic submission of prescription to pharmacies. This saves time, otherwise required for script clarification. Also, the feature helps in case patients need prescription refills.
  • Scanning and verification for insurance credit card to prevent fraud.
  • Other important features include processing, appointment scheduling, appointment reminders, reporting and analytics.
  • Compliance with HIPAA, GDPR, PHIPA/PIPEDA, & HITECH Act.

Maintenance of Electronic Health Records (EHR): Having the right EHR software that is integrated with the telehealth software maximizes efficiency. Imagine the convenience if your patients are able to review their personal health records and you as a physician are able to retrieve patients’ file in a click and share lab results on-screen with your patients.

Telehealth re-imbursements: When it comes to billing, it important to have a clear idea about the telehealth re-imbursement rules, specific coding and modifiers with different insurance carriers. As the state-specific regulation keep changing, especially during the current coronavirus outbreak, it might get difficult to stay updated with latest policies.

You might be better off using a medical billing company who is aware of the latest reimbursement policies with the insurance companies. Certain insurers reimburse online visit fees similar to the in-person ones, while some companies might pay only for the duration of the video conference.

Remote is the new normal. Ensure that you are equipped with the latest technology for a successful practice as a solo physician.

 

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