3 Key Tips That Will Ease the Transition into Telemedicine
Telehealth is transforming the way we look at healthcare. Even before the coronavirus pandemic forced offices to close, telehealth services were steadily rising in popularity. Offering widespread benefits to both providers and patients, virtual appointments give providers the ability to continue working with clients regardless of location or unforeseeable closings. Healthcare providers who have not previously offered telemedicine are now increasing their efforts to do so. A March 2020 survey showed that “41% of healthcare providers said they were using telemedicine technology, an increase from 22% in 2018.”
Telehealth connects patients and doctors despite geographical distance, increasing patient access to healthcare. It offers a solution for overcrowded waiting areas and allows patients to eliminate drive time and risk of exposure to disease for minor medical issues. Additionally, those patients that live in rural areas have the same access to healthcare services as those living within walking distance of a medical facility. In turn, physicians can become more competitive, increase patient volume, and offer care to a wider geographical area.
As more healthcare providers add telehealth technology to their organization, the right technology tools will ensure a smooth transition to telemedicine.
Managing Your Telehealth Practice
Managing your telehealth practice doesn’t look all that different from managing a traditional brick-and-mortar clinic. Knowing the challenges, you may encounter will help prepare you and your patients for the transition to virtual sessions.
One of the main concerns in healthcare is who pays for what. Limitations and regulations put forth on telemedicine by Medicare and Medicaid have made adopting telehealth services challenging for some providers. The good news is that with the increased demand for remote healthcare, most private insurance companies, as well as Medicare and Medicaid, cover telemedicine to some extent. Other challenges include maintaining a HIPAA-compliant environment and creating a plan to transition administrative tasks to a remote landscape, rather than in-person management of office tasks and complicated paperwork.
Telemedicine offers a multitude of benefits that far outweigh the challenges if your clinic is equipped with the proper technology systems. Here are 3 Key Tips to Ease the Transition to Telemedicine:
Set Your Practice Up for Success
Whether your switch to telehealth is in response to unforseen closings, extended leave, or an effort to expand your practice, a critical step for success is communicating your new business practices to patients and staff. First, determine what services you will offer and whether you will be taking on new clients or reserving virtual sessions for existing patients only.
To ensure that your practice remains compliant with industry privacy standards and protocols, as well as maintains eligibility for insurance reimbursement, your services must be offered through a HIPAA-compliant telehealth platform. Additionally, for the billing aspect of telehealth services, you will need to sync your platform and Electronic Medical Record (EMR) software with a payment processor that integrates easily with your system. This will help provide a seamless patient experience from triage to checkout. Your telemedicine payment-processing platform should offer secure gateway processing to guarantee HIPAA compliance and safeguard patient health and financial data.
Verify Healthcare Benefits with Insurance Providers
The relationship between healthcare providers and insurance providers can be complex. Adding virtual medical services provides a new set of challenges and regulations that both must adhere to.
In order to deliver services to your patients, determine what type of telemedicine coverage their insurance provides before they attend a virtual appointment. Currently, thirty-five states and the District of Columbia have put parity laws in place that cover private insurers and reimburse for telehealth sessions as if they were in-office visits. A working knowledge of how the insurance company classifies telehealth and what is covered—for example, is video conferencing covered or only phone calls—is crucial for your billing staff. Make sure to use the correct codes for telemedicine in order to obtain reimbursement for your services.
However, even with laws in place and insurers covering telemedicine, some services will still require a copay, and other clients may need the option to self-pay. Be prepared with outlined self-pay rates or regular sliding payment plans for when services are either not covered by insurance or the patient is uninsured.
Allow Patients to Pay Directly
Enable patients to easily make payments by integrating a secure gateway solution with your EHR or CMS software. This allows your organization to offer direct payment for copays, fees, and self-pay services. By using a secure telemedicine payment processor, your clinic can accept multiple forms of payment such as ACH bank transfer, credit and debit card payments, and mobile wallet payments (Apple Pay and Google Wallet).
Your healthcare clinic will also be able to offer patients the convenience of recurring payments, which makes installment plans easier to manage, and reduces the occurrence of unpaid services. More payment method options also increases revenue opportunities for your practice with the benefit of lower interchange rates associated with payment methods such as Apple Pay and Google Wallet.
Medical billing staff can easily manage and gain control over patient billing and payments that are associated with telemedicine sessions with a solutions provider that allows payment requests to be submitted through a secure link sent via email or text message. Lastly, trust that your patient information is secure with access to hosted payment forms for secure online payment processing. This simple, seamless method redirects clients from your telehealth session to a secure payment form that is PCI-DSS and HIPAA-compliant.
Telemedicine Puts Healthcare at Your Fingertips
Telemedicine in the healthcare industry will continue to transform. Putting the proper tools in place will help ease your practice’s transition into virtual medicine, allowing you to remain competitive in a growing market and ensuring uninterrupted patient care.
Expand the reach of your healthcare organization’s services with telehealth.
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