With the increasing spread of COVID-19 throughout the United States, and the world, the way we’re practicing medicine is changing. Although telemedicine has been available (and billable) for several years, it hasn’t been widely adopted by many within the United States. However, that’s changing.
As we continue to battle the Coronavirus, we’re going to see more hospitals, practices and patients using telemedicine. Practices need to be prepared to handle telemedicine demands and get up to speed on how to appropriately bill telemedicine. Here’s a closer look at telemedicine and the Coronavirus, and useful information and tips that every practice needs to know.
Physicians and Patients are Turning to Telemedicine with the COVID-19 Outbreak
As the Coronavirus outbreak continues to get larger within the United States, many physicians and patients are turning to the use of telemedicine as a safer way to contain the spread of the virus. According to the New York Times, hospitals and doctors across the country are beginning to expand their use of telemedicine to safely screen and treat patients who may have COVID-19. It allows providers to offer remote services while working to contain the spread of infection.
Although telemedicine isn’t a new, it hasn’t taken off widely throughout the U.S., that is, until now. According to infectious disease experts, using telemedicine will become critical to managing the current pandemic. As telemedicine is expanded, patients can get guidance via their computer or phone on whether they need to be seen by a physician or tested for the Coronavirus instead of showing up at their doctor’s office or local emergency room. This also allows potential high-risk patients to opt for telemedicine visits instead of chancing waiting rooms where they might be at risk for contracting COVID-19.
Medicare and Medicaid aren’t the only ones willing to pay for telehealth services. As telemedicine expands during the current Coronavirus crisis, private health insurers are also saying they’ll pay for virtual visits, as well. However, these visits would need to be for individuals who may be infected with Coronavirus.
The Coronavirus Response Bill and Its Effect on Telehealth
The recent Coronavirus response bill, which was an $8.3 billion emergency funding measure that Congress passed in response to the COVID-19 outbreak, is making it easier for hospitals and practices to use telemedicine. Under the section “Telehealth Services During Certain Emergency Periods Act of 2020,” the Social Security Act is amended, allowing for the temporary modification or waiving of various Medicare requirements surrounding telehealth services when provided in response to the COVID-19 outbreak.
In the past, Medicare has generally restricted coverage of telemedicine to patients in rural areas that would be required to drive a significant way to receive treatment. These restrictions can now be waived in accordance to this act to help providers best respond to Coronavirus and the challenges it presents to healthcare providers and patients. While Medicare recipients will still need to undergo physical testing for COVID-19 should they need it, expanding the availability of telehealth throughout this outbreak allows providers to better prepare for testing while managing the increase in demand for healthcare services.
Essential Telemedicine Billing and Coding Tips to Remember
Whether you already provide routine telemedicine services or you rarely deal with these services at your practice, it’s likely you’ll need to turn to telemedicine more in the next several weeks. To ensure you avoid claims denials, here are some essential telemedicine billing and coding tips to remember.
- Bill your E/M codes as usually along with the GT modifier
- Be sure that you add the Place of Service (POS) 02-Telehealth on claims, as well to show that the service as furnished from a distance site as a professional telehealth service
- If there’s also an originating site (the place hosting a patient and the provider is in another location) you’ll need to add Q3014 to ensure the hosting facility is also paid
- In documentation, the provider must note that the visit is a telehealth visit, the start time of the visit, the end time of the visit, and the source of video conferencing used
- Remember that an audio conference does not meet telemedicine guidelines
- HIPAA compliant video conference systems must be used, and HIPAA approved options include:
Remember that neither Facetime nor Skype are HIPAA compliant and you will not be reimbursed if you use either of them for a telehealth visit. Medicare does have existing codes for certain Medicare telehealth services (Medicare Telehealth Services)
* As of March, the provider can use any video-enabled device (including cell phone) for the teleconference. Also, co-pays are waived for COVID-19 testing. Here are payer specific changes –
Health systems across the country are racing to adapt and develop telehealth services that will serve as the front line for patients as the COVID-19 pandemic continues. Although virtual care does have limits, using telemedicine offers the potential to prevent further spread of Coronavirus and is being adopted quickly across multiple health systems.
At M-Scribe.com, we’re here to help your practice as you begin to see the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. We’re experienced in helping practices of all sizes with telemedicine billing and coding and we’re proudly working with practices across the country to help them make adjustments in this challenging time. Learn more about our billing and coding services and how we can work together to ensure you avoid claims denials and boost revenue by visiting M-Scribe.com today.