Technology is constantly playing a vital role in the practice of medicine and telemedicine is certainly one. During this worldwide pandemic, it is being utilized more than ever. It may seem complicated at first, but with the right knowledge, technology and backing, telemedicine platform can become an integral and traditional part of patient care.
What Kind Of Technology Do Doctors Need To Have In COVID-19?
The technical infrastructure required for a telemedicine visit typically depends on various factors – the location of the patient and the required type of treatment. During the COVID-19 pandemic, however, things may need to be altered slightly. Here are different ways of offering services to patients:
Through networked connections – Remote healthcare clinics are connected perfectly to larger healthcare facilities via the internet. Part of any telemedicine interaction requires patients to check-in at the site of the telemedicine interaction. The medical staff will prepare the exam room with diagnostic equipment before the telemedicine interaction begins so that everything is in ready and at hand.
Point to point connections – Smaller units are linked with larger, central healthcare systems via high-speed internet. With this kind of instance, these clinics can outsource to specialists in bigger clinics within the same healthcare system. This kind of method will be seeing a surge in popularity during this time due to the increase in understaffed clinics.
Remote patient monitoring – Providing care from a distance for patients who are looking for immediate and greater access to healthcare for conditions that are non-urgent. This type of encounter will see patients receiving appointments from home as they possess direct contact with their healthcare facility. Remote patient monitoring will, again, see an upwards spike as the vast majority of people are going to be staying locked in their homes for many months going forward.
The payment model for Telemedicine Service and how they’re altering
Physicians get reimbursed for delivering telemedicine services through Medicare, Medicaid or through commercial payers. Because of the impact of coronavirus, the rules have relaxed somewhat in order to allow more work to be done and more progress to be made during such a testing time.
To get paid through Medicare, a healthcare professional must first be an authorized telehealth practitioner that is allowed to provide consultations. The patient receiving the services must be located in an established “telehealth site” – a healthcare facility that is able to provide telehealth services to an acceptable standard. It was always required that the interaction must be exclusively in an audio-video setting, but such coverage has been expanded for other phone-based services.
For Medicaid, telemedicine reimbursements largely follow state mandates. They are based on the type of telemedicine service provided, as well as the types of healthcare professionals who can apply for reimbursements and the patient’s location during the consultation.
The third way is to get reimbursed privately. Not all patient insurance covers telemedicine, so providers will need to do a little research into things before committing and proceeding.
Traditional Telemedicine Services
There are two kinds of video telemedicine: there’s ‘direct-to-consumer’, and there’s ‘hub-and-spoke’.
Direct-to-consumer: Doctors provide telehealth services to a patient in the comfort of their own home. The payer – whether the insurer or the state – has agreed that telemedicine consultation can be carried out without regardless of whether medical staff are present. Again, as people are kept in their homes, this will be the most popular form.
Hub-and-spoke telemedicine – Patient must be present at an “originating site”, a healthcare facility where telemedicine is allowed. In this circumstance, a patient must be present at a “spoke” location, with the remote doctor taking up the role at the hub.
Other Factors Involved In Practicing Telemedicine During Covid-19
For practising telemedicine across state lines, you’ll need to be licensed to practice medicine in the patient’s location. As you’d expect, the healthcare providers will not be allowed to treat patients if they do not have a valid license for that area.
To bill insurance for patient treatment, the physicians will need to quote their physical address – this address is the place where they see the patients in person. Billing for telemedicine is as simple as you would expect. Providers need the same codes for billing in person because insurance companies consider the services rendered via telemedicine to be the same as a typical face-to-face session. The only difference is the code that is used for the “place of service” – for obvious reasons.
Initially introduced to provide care and treatment to patients in remote areas, telemedicine has now evolved to provide care to patients in convenient settings, and with the global pandemic taking center stage, it couldn’t be more important at this juncture.
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