It’s a great time for your physical therapy practice to make the jump to telemedicine. It helps reduce the spread of the COVID9 virus by keeping high risk patients at home and your staff safe. We put together a step by step guide to help you make the transition.
Step 1 – Pick a Telemedicine Platform
A telemedicine platform is the actual technology that will connect the patient and the physical therapist via video. It really only needs to do two things; connect the patient with the physical therapist and document the session. If you want to implement a professional platform we would recommend taking a look at the list below. However, Skype and FaceTime can be used during the current crisis if it’s in good faith.
IMPORTANT: YOU DO NOT NEED A PROFESSIONAL TELEMEDICINE PLATFORM: Effective immediately, the HHS Office for Civil Rights (OCR) will exercise enforcement discretion and waive penalties for HIPAA violations against health care providers that serve patients in good faith through everyday communications technologies, such as FaceTime or Skype, during the COVID-19 nationwide public health emergency.
Regardless of which option you choose make sure you have contingency plans for what you would do if:
- You lose audio or video connectivity.
- The internet stops working.
- The patient has additional complications while you are working with them.
- Your patient decides they do not want to do telehealth anymore.
Step 2 – Let Your Patient Know You Are Offering TeleHealth
Now that you have TeleHealth as an option, it’s time to get the word out. Here are some templates you can use to speed up getting the word out:
- Send out an Email – Get sample email below
- Post on Facebook/Website – Get sample posts below
- Hang up Flyer – Get sample flyer below
- Train your Staff – Get sample training below
Step 3 – Get Patient’s Consent
You will need to get the patient's consent to conduct Telehealth.
- If they are an existing patient, you just need them to sign a consent form. Patient Studio is offering a free digital telemedicine consent form here.
- If they are a new patient, add the consent form to your new patient packet and collect all of this information electronically.
- PS if you need help getting all your patient paperwork digital, contact us at PatientStudio.
Step 4 – Conduct Telehealth Session
It will be up to the individual therapist to put together exercises based on the patient’s needs and available equipment at their home. Have confidence in your well educated staff that they can still help patients even with limited equipment.
Step 5 – Billing Insurance
Documentation is key here. Make sure you document why you are choosing to treat this patient via Telehealth. You will also need to document each session.
In response to the COVID19 pandemic, many insurers, including CMS, are allowing Telehealth sessions. APTA recommends asking these questions:
- Will services provided by physical therapists (and PTAs working under the direction and supervision of the PT) be covered when provided via telehealth?
- If so, what codes should be billed and what modifiers are required?
- What device(s) or application(s) can be utilized?
- What, if any, consents are required?
- Are there any special documentation requirements?
Here is a guide for CPT billing codes: