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Share These Five Telehealth Best Practices with Your Patients
As the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic continues to necessitate social distancing in many areas of the country, telemedicine is becoming the new normal for patients seeking non-emergency healthcare. Since declaration of a public health emergency earlier this year, the US Department of Health and Human Services has even taken a number of steps to make it easier for providers to offer telehealth services and receive appropriate reimbursement. These include provisions for HIPAA flexibility, temporary CMS policy changes, and cost-sharing for patients in federal healthcare programs.
It appears these developments have been well-received by many. Data shows that over 9 million Medicare beneficiaries accessed telehealth services between March 17 and June 19 alone. A survey of Americans’ perceptions of and experiences with telemedicine during the pandemic found that 60 percent of respondents are increasingly willing to give remote care a try.
The same survey, however, revealed that 36 percent of respondents still prefer a real-world face-to-face appointment with their healthcare provider, primarily due to concerns around quality of care. If in office visits are still discouraged in your region, or you want to continue encouraging telemedicine even if the virus is under control, it may help to share the five best practices that follow with your patients to help them maximize their telehealth experience.
1. Ask patients to confirm telehealth visit co-pays and other fees with their insurance provider before the appointment.
Telehealth coverage policies vary depending on factors including insurance provider, service needed, and even geographic area. The Center for Connected Health Policy has put together a comprehensive guide to policies related to fee-for-service Medicare that may be helpful, but the best resource for non-Medicare patients who want to know exactly what a telehealth visit will cost them is their own insurance provider.
Sarah Nguyen, senior vice president of applications and integrations at U.S. Dermatology Partners, agrees. “We take the necessary steps to verify the patient’s insurance plan for the telehealth appointment, but ultimately, it is still their responsibility to ensure that they understand the details of their benefits,” she says.