The health care system is being tested like never before as a result of the novel coronavirus pandemic. Over the course of the last few weeks and months, we’ve seen hospitals and health systems overwhelmed with patients. It’s been a truly scary time both here in the United States and around the world.
For any doctor or physician’s assistant, the immediate concern has been seeing the dozens of patients–– particularly in hot spot areas–– that need treatment and consultations regarding COVID-19. There has been little time for anything else and the risks that any health care worker takes on a daily basis do not go unrecognized.
While meeting with patients and keeping team members safe is undoubtedly critical, the nuts and bolts operations of your clinic still go on. Medical billing is what keeps the revenue coming in, but with so much going on, there’s little time to dedicate to this critical aspect of your practice. This is the same for major hospitals and health care systems.
Billing and coding for telemedicine visits are vitally important for any health care provider at this time, especially when in-person visits are down (for obvious reasons) and people are focused on social distancing. Being able to have a partner that is skilled in medical coding and can handle the revenue cycle management part of your practice is crucial. Not only does it mean you can stop worrying about finances, but it also allows you to spend more time with your patients both virtually and in person.
As always, one thing that is of the utmost importance for a physician is the security of a telemedicine appointment with a patient. Here at MedUSA, we recommend only using secure applications such as Apple Facetime, Facebook Messenger, Google Hangout, Skype, Microsoft Teams, or Zoom for Healthcare. Public-facing applications such as TikTok, Twitch and Facebook Live are not secure and should never be used.
Between all of the video conference options, Vonage CEO Alan Masarek told a recent Forbes podcast that “we’ve seen literally in the last month a 2,000% increase in video usage in the telehealth vertical.” Also according to Forbes, Doxy.me reported 139,000 new providers — doctors, medical offices, healthcare professionals — in one week.
In the Manhattan-based NYU Langone Health system, which is a hotspot for the most coronavirus positive tests in the United States, the number of daily video visits increased nearly a hundredfold, from 80 on March 1 to almost 8,000 this month, chief medical information officer Dr. Paul Testa told Newsday.
But there is one major adjustment to telemedicine that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) changed as of March 30. The Trump Administration lifted restrictions on audio-only telemedicine visits. This means you can conduct telemedicine consultations with patients, even if they don’t have access to a smartphone or videoconferencing software.
One other thing to note with telemedicine is the amount of documentation that must be done. Regardless of video or audio conferencing, verbal consent must be noted in the medical record for each service. The location of the patient and provider must be documented, as well as the method of communication. All instructions given and reviewed should be written down as well for patient files.
There are several other aspects your billing and coding partner needs to be aware of in terms of telemedicine and telehealth:
- POS 02 is of use with private payers unless plans specify otherwise that indicate telemedicine.
- For Medicare, do not use the POS02 DOS after March 1, because the reimbursement is affected. Use the POS code that would have been reported had it been in-person with a modifier of -95 on claim lines funished via telemedicine.
Those are just two of the coding notes that your team needs to be aware of. What’s more, coding changes are happening almost daily. The COVID-19 pandemic is a fluid situation and healthcare systems are trying to adjust. On top of caring for patients and running your practice, that’s a lot to keep up with. Why not leave your medical billing and coding needs to a trusted, well-renowned partner like us?
If your practice doesn’t already perform billing and coding for telemedicine services, now is the right time to take action. Once social distancing measures subside, industry experts expect telemedicine to continue to take off.
With more than four decades of building profitable relationships, Med USA is a medical billing and practice management company that provides customized solutions including an integrated electronic health record (EHR) system, medical coding and credentialing services. Our services are based on the concept of adaptability. We provide solutions for office-based physician practices, hospital-based practices and medical billing companies with services that are easy to implement and use. In addition, we provide scalable solutions for all types of providers, from small practices to large healthcare systems. Get in touch with us today and find out more about how we can work together and help your revenues increase.