News and Notes on Telemedicine Innovation
How do I Get Paid for Telemedicine?
Using FaceTime for Telemedicine [Whitepaper]Overview of the HIPAA rules and SimpleVisit
Building a Virtual Practice?Find expert advice on best practices and tools used for virtual care.
Regulation & Reimbursement Report
April 29, 2019 saw the passing of a new (and long-awaited) telehealth bill by the Florida legislature, and, for the most part, the take-aways are positive. Here are the highlights: Taking effect July 1, 2019: A definition which includes asynchronous methods of service...read more
Urgent Care Telemedicine [Case Study] Righttime Urgent Care has over a dozen locations covering 10 counties in the state of Maryland. They had been wanting to offer telemedicine services for quite some time, but their project had been stymied because of integration...read more
Workflow for Urgent Care TelemedicineIn recent years, there has been increasing emphasis put on healthcare organizations optimizing their workflows. Single-doctor private practices have seen just as much benefit as large hospital-based health systems, and the...read more
What are the requirements for Medicare to reimburse for telemedicine?
Medicare is one of the largest providers of health insurance in the country, and many people rely on it to be able to afford medical services in a variety of specialties. They also have a very complicated reimbursement process, with very specific requirements for when they will cover services delivered through telehealth. View our resource page at the link below, with information taken from the Telehealth Resource Center’s informational booklet on the subject.
Is where my patient is located eligible for Medicare telehealth payment? Is it considered “rural” or a Healthcare Professional Shortage Area by Medicare?
What specific types of telehealth services will Medicare pay for?
Every year, CMS publishes a list of CPT & HCPCS codes that they will accept on claims for reimbursement of telehealth services. They also accept requests for the consideration of two types of new codes to be added to that list for the next year: Category 1, which include services that are similar to items that are currently on the list of telehealth-acceptable codes; and Category 2, which are services that are not similar to the current list of telehealth-acceptable codes. The list of codes from the current year and previous year is available on the CMS website.
What are the changes to this year's Physician Fee Schedule for telehealth services?
In the middle of each year, CMS starts working on it’s Physician Fee Schedule for the next year. They will propose it, accept comments, make revisions, and then publish it by November of the year before it goes into effect. Telehealth is such a dynamic field, with advances and innovations occuring monthly, so every year there are changes to the particular section more than most others. Below you can find the most current PFS. The Center for Connected Health Policy also puts out an Infographic and Fact Sheet for those who want a quick version or easy-to-understand explanation of those changes.
What are the current and pending legislations in my state and federally that pertain to telehealth?
Each year there are more and more laws passed and regulations approved that advance the accessibility and practicality of using telemedicine in everyday medical practices. The Center for Connected Health Policy has an interactive map and searchable tracker designed to help you easily look up and access the current and pending legislation and regulations in any state that pertain to all aspects of telehealth.
Does my state have a law that requires private payers to reimburse telemedicine services the same as in-person services?
What is the Medicaid telemedicine policy in my state?
How do the coding procedures for telehealth differ when submitting bills to payers for telemedicine services?
What is the licensing policy for practicing telemedicine through the Medical Board in my state?
Is my state a part of the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact?
One of the biggest benefits of telemedicine technology is the ability to provide medical services to anyone, anywhere. This is also one of the greatest barriers to physicians wishing to extend their practice across state lines – most reimbursement laws and rules require the physician to be licensed in the state where their patient is located. To address this obstacle, many states have opted to enter into an agreement with other participating states to create a common language and a standard of regulations in order to have one medical license that is valid in any of the participating states. This is now called the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact, and during each legislative session, more and more states are enacting legislation to join this agreement. To see if your state is one of them, check the interactive map on the ILMCC website, which provides current information on where each of the 50 states is in the process of adopting this compact.
Is my state a part of any other interstate licensing compacts?
Along with physicians, there are other types of providers for whom telemedicine has many advantages, and the licensing difficulties affect them as well. To address this, more and more licensing boards for various types of providers are following the example of the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact by creating their own interstate compacts. Currently, there are compacts active and live for Registered Nurses, Physical Therapists and EMS Personnel. There are two more compacts, one for licensed psychologists and one for Nurse Practitioners, that have been enacted but are waiting for a certain number of states to join before they go live. To see where your state is in the process of adopting any of these compacts, see the following pages for state-specific maps and information.
I am a VA provider: are telemedicine services offered for my speciality through VA healthcare?
Healthcare for veterans is an important field of medicine. Travel to speciality clinics for veterans is often more difficult than for others, and to this end, the US Dept of Veteran Affairs has a list of specialties that are approved and covered for the use of synchronous video telemedicine services. Their website lists those specialists, as well as has many helpful links for other aspects of their telehealth policy.
Do the same requirements and restrictions on cross-state medical practice apply for VA telemedicine practitioners?
Does my telehealth practice comply with HIPAA regulations?
The Health Information and Portability and Accountability Act is one of the major players in determining policy for medical providers in all areas of practice. Telehealth is no different. As use of telehealth technologies becomes more common and widespread, practices must be careful to make sure that their policies comply with the regulations set forth in the Act. The National Consortium of Telehealth Resource Centers has published a helpful fact sheet to help you along on your quest for compliance.
What are the HIPAA regulations that affect telehealth?
Telepharmacy & Online Prescribing
What are the rules and regulations surrounding medication management via telehealth?
Prescribing and medication management already has so many restrictions and regulations surrounding it, and combining it with the relatively new practice of telemedicine only complicates it more. While legislators are still figuring out some of the details of the topic, there are some resources out there. The RUPRI Center for Rural Health Policy Analysis published a Rural Policy Brief on Telepharmacy in 2017 that, though some things may have changed, is a good place to start.
What's the difference between E-Prescribing and Online Prescribing?
The response most would have to that question is likely “I didn’t know there was a difference!” However, there is one, and it’s important. According to the Center for Connected Health Policy:
Online prescribing or internet prescribing: when a provider prescribes a drug to a patient based upon an interaction that has taken place online.
E-Prescribing: the act of a provider sending a prescription electronically to a pharmacy, such as through an EHR.
Full Downloadable Resource Coming Soon!
Can I establish the provider-patient relationship needed for prescribing medications via a telemedicine appointment?
Historically, this has been one of the trickiest parts of prescribing medications through virtual care. Slowly but surely, states are getting wise to the benefits of telehealth and putting laws in place to allow this, but still protect against those who would abuse it and use the privileges fraudulently. The American Medical Association has a wonderful chart of each State’s laws regarding the patient -provider relationship and telemedicine.
How does the Ryan Haight Act of 2008 effect medication management via telehealth today?
Analysis & Update Coming Soon!
This all sounds like Greek to me -- what do all these terms mean?
What guidelines and standards of practice have been created for practicing telemedicine in my field?
Are there other guidelines I can refer to about specific types of medical practices and telehealth use?
Where do I learn more about resources in my area for telehealth?
Are there guides written for my region from a Telehealth Resource Center?
The National Consortium of Telehealth Resource Centers includes Resource Centers for each region of the United States. Most of them have published a best practices and general policy guide for their region. Click on your state or region below to find your Guide.
Where can I find policy updates grouped by Resource Center?
The Center for Connected Health Policy keeps an updated page where they have PDF tracking reports for all state policy changes grouped by Telehealth Resource Center regions.
How do I access the federal grants and resources that the government has put in place to expand telemedicine programs nationwide?
I've never written an application for a grant - any tips?
While it’s great to find out that there are opportunities for funding from other places besides your own pocketbook or profits, the process to getting to those funds can be long and complicated. The Great Plains Telehealth Resource & Assistance Center has a set of tips for grant writing to start you off.
What are the technology recommendations for telemedicine?
Are there resources available to help train me/my staff on how to do telemedicine?
While the idea of telemedicine might just seem intuitive to many, as with any new technology or process, there can be a learning curve. Training programs and resources can make or break the success of your telemedicine program. To help you get started, the NRTRC has published a white paper on the subject. The TexLa TRC also has a collection of training videos on a variety of topics that are helpful.
How do I start integrating telemedicine into my practice?
While the benefits of offering telemedicine in any given practice have become increasingly obvious and necessary in this competitive market, sometime the thought of starting that process seems overwhelming. Again the National Consortium of Telehealth Resource Centers has come to your aid with a concise guide to implementing a telemedicine program in a practice, broken down into 15 steps. AMD Global Telemedicine, a pioneer of international clinical telemedicine technology, has also published a useful guide for implementing a successful telemedicine program, commissioned by the International Society for Telemedicine and e-Health, that gives more useful pointers on how to make this new venture work for your practice. TexLa TRC has an informative white paper on all aspects of implementation. Lastly, California’s Telehealth Resource Center has put together a Kit to help you develop your program today!
How do I market my practice’s new telemedicine option?
So, you’ve started the process of implementing telemedicine in your practice – now you need to let your patients know, as well as all the potential patients looking for a provider with a good telemedicine program. The California Telehealth Resource Center has published a wonderful guide to creating a marketing strategy for that purpose, easily adapted to a variety of clinical settings. The Northwest Regional TRC also has published a white paper on how to market your new telehealth program, as well as a Marketing 101 toolkit presentation.