What is Telehealthcare?

Telemedicine and telehealth represent the exchange of medical information amongst diverse sites. Telemedicine, as well as telehealth, can be defined as the transmission of medical information like images, video consultation, patient portals, remotely controlling and monitoring of vital signs, using patient-centric applications, nursing call centers, and numerous other functions. Telehealth is a collection of means for enhancing health care for the common public and health education support by means of telecommunication technologies. Telehealth includes a broad variety of technologies and strategies to supply virtual medical services. Telehealth is not a definite service, but a collection of means to improve health care support.

Telehealth uses the data and communication technologies to deliver the best health care when patients and health care providers are not in the same location. Doctors can have sessions to evaluate the patients, diseases can be diagnosed and treatment can be provided through secure video conferences and other virtual means.

 For patients, this means getting medical help in the comfort and safety of your own home with faster access to good care with very less waiting, greater control over scheduling, and a better connection amongst specialists and primary care.

The three main areas of telehealth

  • Telemedicine is video conferencing with your health care professional
  • Telemonitoring is the health care professional remotely collecting and sending patient data
  • Mobile health is using mobile communication devices like smartphones, tablets, and computers to send health information or support lifestyle plans.

There are a number of different types of consultations that can take place by means of telehealth.

  • Live video specialist Telehealth Visits
  • Follow-up appointments
  • Multidisciplinary team meetings
  • Virtual Check-Ins
  • Ward rounds
  • Emergency assessments
  • Therapy and treatment appointments
  • E-Visits

[1]

Telehealth visiting is and should be available for both new and regular patients. Different payers require different Place of Service (POS) designations for telemedicine. Prior to coding a telemedicine appointment, check the carrier services website for POS updates to ensure the claim is not precluded. The organization and first-hand patients can schedule a virtual check-in with the practitioner like an introductory appointment.  The patient can submit a video or image for clarification before or after the appointment or they can share this information during the session, both will be accepted and classified accordingly while billing.

Physicians, assistants, or nurse practitioners can conduct appointments such as E-visits and code them based on practicing status. E-visits require time-based coding in 10-minute augmentations and should be submitted within a collective seven-day time period.

During the COVID-19 public health emergency, telehealth is crucial to those who seek medical help from the safety of their home. Not only does this way of health care protects the patients from exposure to the virus it protects the health care providers as much as possible from getting infected by the at-risk patients. Healthcare professionals are fighting COVID-19 on the front lines for us, either by visiting hospitals in need to provide support in emergencies or taking care of those who need daily routine care.

Telehealth Billing

In order to preserve financial stability during the current healthcare crisis, it is vital to have the resources for proper billing and coding for virtual visits. Service providers and insurance providers make sure to help with updates and resources on the corporate part of health care, to make sure that healthcare providers can focus on patients.

Medical billing is the process of submitting and following up on dues with health insurance companies in order to receive payment for services performed by the healthcare provider. A necessity for medical billing in telehealth services in the form of practitioners who can perform their health care duties and be reimbursed for the covered telehealth services, including, physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, and more.

There are no geographic restrictions for telehealth services and billing. Telehealth services are usually available for people in rural and urban areas. There are no longer restrictions for the types of providers; they simply need to be AHCCCS registered providers. [2]

A facility fee is basically an amount paid to the local healthcare facility that handles the patient during a telemedicine visit. In the current Medicare telemedicine model, a patient has to come into a qualified originating site for the telemedicine visit with the healthcare provider at a distant site. That originating site can then charge a facility fee to cover the costs of hosting the telehealth visit.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued a second Interim Final Rule, COVID-19 Emergency Declaration Blanket Waivers for Health Care Providers, in retort to the coronavirus pandemic. This rule changes and adds many of the current telehealth coverage developments with waivers of the requirements previously defined by CMS, due to the public health emergency. With the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic, telehealth has become a necessary way of providing care to the patients.

ACCC recently hosted a webcast in which Teri Bedard, BA, RT(R) (T), CPC—the Director of Client Services at Revenue Cycle Coding Strategies LLC, discussed the rapid changes in the coverage of and billing for telehealth services amid the COVID-19 public health emergency. Since this national emergency declaration, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has issued a series of waivers relaxing restrictions regarding telehealth. During the public health emergency, it has been decided by the service providers to relax the classifications of the codes that allow services to be performed only for the established patients and instead has decided to expand them to include new patients as well.[3]

During the pandemic, the importance of telehealthcare and billing is undeniable. Not only does this make basic health requirements easier and safer for the patients it helps the health care providers perform their duties through this difficult time without compromising their own health, time, and business.


References

[1] “About Telehealth – Telehealth,” accessed May 20, 2020, https://www.telehealth.org.nz/telehealth-forum/what-is-telehealth/.

[2] “Telehealth Services and Billing Guidelines FFS Presentation,” 2019.

[3] “UPDATED 5/7/20: Telehealth Billing & Coding During COVID-19,” accessed May 20, 2020, https://www.accc-cancer.org/acccbuzz/blog-post-template/accc-buzz/2020/04/20/telehealth-billing-coding-during-covid-19.