Due to the COVID-19 state of emergency, regulations for telehealth have been temporarily changed to allow more practices to provide services via phone or video chat. This will make it easier to maintain continuity of care while patients and care teams practice social distancing. NYC REACH will support providers with telehealth during this time and will continue to offer guidance as regulations change.
Telehealth support is available to both members and non-members during the COVID-19 emergency. All providers and practice staff are welcome to attend our weekly, live webinar series: Telehealth During the Public Health Emergency: Training for Practices. Register here for an upcoming webinar. To watch a recording of a previous webinar, click the link below or download a PDF of the slides.
Please note that different payers may have different definitions and reimbursement rates for telehealth, telemedicine, and telephonic services. Check with payers to ensure you are following their definition.
What is telehealth?
Telehealth is typically used as the umbrella term for all remote visits – both audio and video or audio only. Some payers define telehealth as requiring both audio and video. Medicare defines telehealth as a service that requires the provider to “use an interactive audio and video telecommunications system that permits real-time communication between the distant site and the patient at home.” Audio and video or audio only (depending on the payer’s definition) are required.
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What is telemedicine?
Medicaid uses the term telemedicine to describe “two-way electronic audio-visual communications to deliver clinical health care services to a patient at an originating site by a telehealth provider.”Audio and video are required.
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What are telephonic services?
Telephonic services are delivered strictly over the phone. No video application is required.
How will I be reimbursed?
Medicare and Medicaid will reimburse both audio-video encounters and strictly telephonic encounters. Audio-video services will be reimbursed at a rate close to or equal to the in-person visit rate. Telephonic services will likely be reimbursed at a lower rate. Commercial plans will vary – check with your payer for more information.
What video application should
Practices should take early steps to incorporate video visits into their operations. The Health & Human Services Office for Civil Rights announced it will not pursue HIPAA penalties if a non-HIPAA compliant video application is used during the COVID-19 state of emergency. This means that, during this time, practices can use popular apps for video chats including FaceTime, Facebook Messenger video chat, Google Hangouts, or Skype.
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However, NYC REACH recommends exploring HIPAA-compliant tools for future use. Contact your EHR vendor to find out if you can perform telehealth visits through your EHR.
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