How will you use telehealth to its full potential?

 In Clinical Care, COVID-19, Healthcare Management, Technology

Telehealth is here to stay. COVID-19’s no-contact demands helped spring the telehealth genie from the bottle, and there’s no going back now.

Patients and families love having the option. Restrictions are being relaxed to allow reimbursement for certain telehealth activities. So … how are you planning to take full advantage of telehealth’s potential for your agency?

In a recent national survey conducted by Transcend Strategy Group among family healthcare decision makers, 62% said telehealth provides an attractive alternative they are more likely to use in the future. In fact, 28% of survey participants have already used video conferencing or other telehealth tools in place of in-home visits since the pandemic gripped our nation.

Keep in mind that telehealth can include much more than video chats, as detailed in one of our recent blog posts about this new frontier. And now, CMS has implemented guidelines for telehealth usage and reimbursement – at least for the duration of the COVID-19 emergency.

For starters, CMS has issued rules to guide telehealth for hospice routine home care, face-to-face encounter requirements, and billing of attending physicians for hospice-connected telehealth visits.

The National Association for Home Care & Hospice issued a very helpful and easy-to-understand overview of CMS’ guidelines and waivers for telehealth if you want to learn more details.

For hospice routine home care, a few of the highlights include:

  • Telehealth visits must be appropriate for the patient, ordered and agreed to for the plan of care.
  • The plan of care must include a description of how the use of technology will help to achieve the goals outlined.
  • Telehealth still counts in the per diem reimbursement even if no personal visits are recorded (in fact, telehealth visits per se are not reportable on the claim form).

Also, remember that telehealth not only empowers efficient provider-to-patient/family communications (for regular check-ins, remote assessments, caregiver training and support) but also provider-to-provider contact (for remote IDT meetings, staff check-ins and consultations with other treating clinicians).

If you haven’t already started a robust telehealth strategy, the time to begin is now. Explore the growing universe of user-friendly remote care tools that are available. Develop innovative policies for how and when to use telehealth tools for more constant connections with patients, families and care partners. And objectively examine how – in the historically high-touch world of home health and hospice – telehealth may help you be even more efficient and effective in providing excellent care to patients and families.

Want to discuss how your agency can use telehealth to its fullest potential for care, connection and communication? Feel free to email me at stan@transcend-strategy.com.

 

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