Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, we are seeing more telemedicine appointments than ever before. Telemedicine enables remote healthcare, which makes it possible for physicians and medical professionals to treat patients via computer, tablet or smartphone, virtually anywhere at any time. It has been around for the past 40 years, but within the last five years there has been major growth in the field.
It is important to follow these best practices when offering telemedicine at your practice:
- Do realize that telemedicine will create efficient time saving opportunities for you and you patients.
- Check with your state’s licensing board to ensure you follow all standards that are applicable.
- Talk with insurance companies on whether certain services/codes that are billed for can be reimbursed if they are provided by telemedicine.
- Download Medicare Current Procedural Technology (CPT) codes that are specific to telemedicine.
- Ensure your malpractice insurance will cover your telemedicine services.
- Market that you are a provider of telemedicine and make patients aware of your services.
- Communicate what the patient can expect with telemedicine. Let the patient know things like the types of situations that can be addressed with telemedicine, let them know how long the visits tend to be, inform them of how much they will need to pay out of pocket, and let them know how emergency situations should be handled.
- Do inform patients about confidentiality and privacy with virtual medical professional visits.
- Do obtain Informed Consent from patients. These Consents provide important protection for the medical provider and gives the patient information on the services they will receive, how their records will be stored, and ensures the patient understands the medium through which care is being delivered and the limitations of providing care in this manner.
- Do manage your technology risk as discussed below.
Education is key. The patient should understand the benefits of telemedicine and be provided with step-by-step instructions to help them through the initial visit. At the time the appointment is made, someone should communicate all of the initial steps and ultimately follow-up with an email or video to ensure the patient understands and is comfortable with all of the process and procedures.
Managing Technology Risk is Key
Managing technology risk is critical to the telemedicine service delivery method. Patients need to be confident that telemedicine is safe and secure. Some technology-related risks include:
- Technology failures
- Identity and access management issues
- Physical security risks
- Information Technology (IT) infrastructure risks
Identity and access management can be combated through multi factor authentication. Physical security risks can be mitigated by having cameras and all secure platforms when communicating with patients. Technology risks can be mitigated by having the most up to date technology and having an IT professional available. If you do not have a designated technology expert on staff to assess and mitigate against the risks of offering telemedicine, there are many technology outsourcing companies available that can assist you.
Technology is the future, and with some assistance, all medical professionals can either begin to offer telemedicine or improve upon the telemedicine service delivery method. Successful treatment of more patients via telemedicine will lead to a larger more lucrative practice. If COVID-19 has taught us anything, it’s that we need to adapt quickly to the ever-changing circumstances around us.
If you have any questions regarding telemedicine best practices for your health practice, please reach out via email, give us a call at (401) 921-2000, or fill out our online contact us form. For further information on COVID-19 resources, please visit our COVID-19 Resources page.