Telehealth, the leveraging of technology to enhance and extend patient care beyond in-person visits, has taken front and center stage over the last year and a half. Once something of a rarely-used technology seen as optional at best, telehealth has emerged and firmly established itself as a fundamental and irreplaceable tool for any medical practice looking to remain viable in today’s market and beyond.
Early on in the COVID-19 pandemic, as much of our routines became mostly or entirely digital, those who had already been leveraging telehealth found themselves with a robust competitive advantage for practice growth and future success. Now, telehealth as a technology has become accepted – and, more and more, expected – by patients seeking care without compromising their health and convenience.
Regardless of if your organization already has a robust telehealth program in place, is looking to catch up to the curve and get a functioning program off the ground, or is somewhere in between – there are best practices to follow, whether independently or with the help of a partner like Keane Insurance Group. Here are the steps that a group practice or MSO can take to grow business, geographic reach, and revenue, and remain viable in a world where telemedicine is both a patient expectation and a necessity for success.
Select a HIPAA-compliant telemedicine technology vendor that fits your needs.
There are hundreds of telemedicine vendors on the market, with many more appearing daily. While telehealth technology compliance guidelines were initially suspended or relaxed during the early days of COVID-19, it’s important to leverage HIPAA-compliant technology as your going forward platform. Before choosing a solution, it’s important to meet with your EHR vendor to see if they have a solution of their own, if it works for you, and if not, what other vendors integrate well. It’s also important to have a tightly-integrated solution, to avoid burning out staff or compounding patient safety risks due to dual-documentation.
Map out new processes and procedures to ensure staff understands protocol.
If your staff does not understand why and how you plan to integrate telehealth, it will not be a great experience – physicians who have undergone a clunky EHR integration will understand. From outbound marketing to front desk triaging for visits, to consents, intake questions, clinical documentation, orders, and finally billing and coding, mapping out what workflows and policies will look like ahead of time will ensure everything is done properly and succinctly – with buy-in from staff.
Be aware of visit types that are effective and reimbursed.
Not all visits can be done through telemedicine, but there are many that can be done via telehealth both effectively and with high quality and proper reimbursement. It is important that staff triaging calls truly understands the visit type and reimbursement schedule when determining which modality will be most effective for each patient in an effective blended-care program.
Market to both your own patients, and to patients you want to acquire.
Patients are the consumers of healthcare, and medical practices that make it easy to do business with their office are emerging as winners. Set up your website for success, rise to the top of Google searches, advertise, and take steps to boost your online reputation. Generally, make it as easy as possible to become a patient with your practice – televisits represent a great opportunity to do so, and help your patient volume grow and revenue climb.
Obtain consent to treat.
As mentioned above, many organizations jumped into telehealth quickly to serve their short-term patient needs during the COVID-19 pandemic. As we catch our breath, it’s important to ensure that your documentation is in order; a great place to start is a Consent to Treat form.
Ensure that quality stays at the forefront of care.
It is true that CMS, Medicare, and many commercial payers made it easier to see patients through telemedicine while keeping reimbursement at in-person levels during the pandemic. However, it is imperative that quality remains at the forefront of care if we plan to keep telehealth as a viable care channel. Make sure that as your organization leverages the convenience and safety aspects of telehealth, you don’t comprise on the care quality typically associated with in-person visits.
Incorporate Remote Patient Monitoring (RPM).
Patients are starting to buy into telehealth, as they begin to understand and appreciate the value of the service. Build further upon that willingness to receive care and care management services out of the office by using Remote Patient Monitoring tools. Vitals, medication management and even cardiac monitoring tools can be easily deployed and used by medical offices to keep a constant eye on their patients at a distance, improve patient outcomes, and increase revenue for the practice.
Become an expert in billing and coding – or find a partner that is.
Specificity has become more and more important in coding over the last few years, due to the push for Hierarchical Condition Category (HCC) coding. We must incorporate all of this and more as we take on a new care channel in telemedicine. New codes, along with specific modifiers and proper documentation and consents, will be necessary to be properly reimbursed for your services.
Keane Insurance Can Help.
There is no question that telehealth is here to stay, and those who have embraced it fully are thriving – while those lagging behind in their adoption of this new technology may struggle. Contact your Keane agent today regarding telehealth – both in terms of MPL coverage, as well as telehealth training and consulting services available to help you increase your revenue, grow your practice, and keep your organization viable as telehealth continues to change the landscape of healthcare.
Upcoming Telehealth Webinar
For more information, be sure to register for our upcoming webinar: “Telehealth: 2020 Lessons Learned, 2021 Opportunities Ahead” with healthcare consulting firm Medical Advantage, set to broadcast on May 18th, 19th, and 21st. We’ll give examples of providers who’ve made effective use of telehealth technology to engage patients and maintain visit volumes. We’ll also discuss telehealth as a revenue growth opportunity in 2021 and beyond.
This blog is adapted from a post which originally appeared on medicaladvantage.com.