Here’s the basic WHAT of establishing the capability for Community Health’s providers to treat patients for the Coronavirus using live audio/video technology.
1. Clinical Guidelines: Clearly define which patients qualify and do not qualify for Telemedicine-based coronavirus care.
2. Medical licensure: While reimbursement regulations have been updated for Coronavirus care, medical licensure requirements still apply.
3. Emergency Procedures: Ensure that in the case of an emergency on the patient end (harm to themselves, harm to others, harm by others, etc.) you can alert the appropriate authorities.
4. Privacy: Ensure that the patient’s privacy is protected during the consults.
5. Billing: Reportedly, CMS and other payors are now allowing billing for the care of patients with the Coronavirus on an exception basis.
Important Note: The current language around Medicare’s waivers for telehealth billing only pertains to the diagnosis and care of patients with a (suspected) infection of the coronavirus. Since the majority of patients will not have the coronavirus, but may still prefer to be seen remotely, your staff need to know which patients can be seen via telemedicine.
6. Scheduling: Telehealth appointments should be scheduled as designated telehealth visits to allow for appropriately billing and tracking of telehealth visits.
7. Telemedicine Consent: Depending on your state’s statutes or the requirements of the payors, patients may need to consent to this form of care orally or in writing and processes need to be in place capturing that consent was obtained.
8. Technology Suitability (Patient): Confirm beforehand that the patient has adequate technology (smartphone, tablet, PC) and adequate, reliable connectivity.
9. Telehealth Technology: Consider using different technical choices for delivering care for teleconsults, depending on the provider and on the patient.
10. Support Processes: With an increasing number of users of the telehealth process comes the need for having a first line of contact to support telehealth-related questions. You need to establish both, operational and technical support.
11. Provider Training: All providers offering telemedicine need to be trained on a variety of aspects of telemedicine. This training should be delivered just-in-time on an as-needed basis. It can be conducted in person or remotely or via a pre-recorded video/presentation. This training should cover the clinical guidelines (inclusion and exclusion criteria), Policies (licensure, consent, emergency contact, privacy, etc.), billing rules, webiquette/webside manners, use of the telemedicine technology, the process for prescriptions, post-visit documentation and follow-up visit scheduling as well as access to support.
12. Allied Health Staff Training: Similarly training materials (documents, presentations, etc.) should be developed for the various audiences affected by telemedicine, including, but not limited to schedulers, patient service representatives, medical billing staff/coders, MAs & RNs, providers and leadership.
13. Communication/Publicity: Lastly, and very importantly, you need to clearly communicate your vision, your objectives, your directives and processes regarding the use of telehealth to all staff members as well as to your patients and the public at large.
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