TELEHEALTH FOR OPTOMETRY DURING CORONAVIRUS (COVID-19) EMERGENCY
"Telemedicine Services - The time to try it is now!"
During this challenging time, many of us are having to close our practices for staff and patient care for a period. In an effort to help healthcare providers manage patients who may have emergent or chronic medical conditions, HHS has eased some of the regulations and policy guidelines for telehealth / telemedicine services. This has the benefit of maintaining patient / doctor confidentiality and continuity of patient care, while keeping these patients out of the emergency rooms and hospital system, whenever possible. Lastly, because my business is the business part of healthcare, it creates a revenue stream during a shutdown of the ancillary healthcare system and ceasing of preventative / routine healthcare services.
HHS and OCR regulations have been relaxed to expand the use of telehealth and provide telemedicine services to the older population. Right now, and for a period of at least 60-days (some payers only allowing through April 30, so check your carriers), we are able to perform these services using day-to-day smart phone devices in a "Synchronous" way (two-way communication via video chat). HIPAA requirements have been relaxed allowing use of Facetime™ and Skype™ for two-way communication for virtual office visits (E/M coding) and "check-in" care (special codes). They also have relaxed the requirements that made the beneficiaries report to a designatedteleconference center to receive care or to require that they live in a designated rural area. They can now contact us from their own homes via video conference to receive patient care.
Just to be clear: This is Medicare. Medicare Parts A, B and C. This includes most Medicare Advantage plans such as United Healthcare, Aetna, Cigna, and other smaller Part C plans. Humana is offering coverage only for COVID-19 emergent issues as of this date. BCBS is offering telehealth through their own Telemedicine portal provided to their members using their own hired physicians. You can check with each carrier regarding telehealth care as needed for other commercial plans.