Telehealth uses telecommunication to facilitate care from a distance using video chap applications like Skype and FaceTime via computer or mobile device. Rock Health reported that 75% of consumers used at least one channel to access telehealth in 2018, which was increased form 2017 by 7%.
As technology for telecommunication advances, so does affordability and accessibility. It assists in the shortage of care, limited access to specialists, and remote locations of patients in rural areas. Telehealth is useful to healthcare providers as it expands patient access to quality care. Telehealth is now more widely known to providers and payers, but many are uncertain on how to code for these visits as the technology and rules can change often.
It is now used in many fields throughout ambulatory and hospital settings. Common telehealth specialties include: Teleradiology, Telepsychiatry, Teledermatology, Teleoncology, Telenephrology, Teleobstretics, Telepathology, and Telerehabilitation.
Telehealth has many benefits such as it is more convenient, accessible to patients, saves healthcare costs, and extends access to consults from specialists. Yet its pitfalls can include that it requires technical training and equipment which will need updating periodically, may reduce in-person interactions with doctors, and keeping up with federal and state regulations as well as payer policy changes is challenging.
For Medicare patients only, specific providers may report telemedicine services. These providers include physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, nurse midwives, clinical nurse specialists, clinical psychologists, clinical social workers, and registered dieticians. When dealing with private payers, the best plan of action is to develop a relationship with your area representative. This way you have the accessibility to call and ask any questions you have about their policies and changes. From this you can create an informational tool of the payer’s policies and reimbursement requirements to share with other staff members.
Telehealth has a lot of growing to do in the field overall, but it is and will continue to be a great addition to providing quality care.