While the idea of telemedicine has been around for decades, its usage has been slow to expand, partly due to strict HIPAA regulations and patient awareness surrounding virtual visits.
With the onset of the Covid-19 health emergency, the percentage of American adults to have tried telemedicine has doubled thanks to relaxed regulations and demand for continued care. Observers are surprised by how quickly the healthcare system turned toward virtual visits.
Because of the demand, many providers who previously didn’t offer telemedicine services are scrambling to get on board. It can be a challenge to find the right technologies and to stay on top of the rapidly changing policies within the Covid-19 environment.
In order to decrease exposure to the virus, practices are strongly encouraged to use telemedicine. On March 17, 2020, CMS loosened strict Telehealth rules for Medicare beneficiaries, such as allowing beneficiaries to receive telemedicine services in their home. The Office of Civil Rights relaxed enforcement of HIPAA rules on visits conducted on certain apps and platforms. Many prior authorization activities have been paused. Medicare and some private insurances are also temporarily waiving cost-sharing.
Telemedicine allows the elderly and high-risk patients, such as those with diabetes, asthma, or heart disease, the opportunity to receive routine care while lowering their exposure to waiting rooms and doctors’ offices. It reduces human contact and slows the spread of the virus, filling a critical need during this pandemic.
With its rising popularity and convenience, telemedicine may become more common. Many physicians and patients want remote care to remain a staple of US healthcare. Virtual visits are not only cost-efficient by cutting practice overhead and patient costs but are also less time-consuming.
With that being said, there are some physical barriers to Telehealth. For some, a virtual appointment may not be enough to treat a patient. There are also technology glitches and those patients who may not be tech-savvy, making virtual visits frustrating and unsuccessful.
Though no service is perfect, telemedicine is a positive and growing medical treatment option that will likely stick around following the pandemic.
Reliance Medical Billing Solutions works with our clients to offer virtual visits to their patients and continue to stay on top of the rapidly changing policies and requirements involved in billing and coding for telemedicine. Contact us today at 717-740-2622 or visit our website at www.reliancembs.com for more information on what we have to offer.