Telemedicine During COVID-19

Is your practice interested in continuing to provide quality healthcare to your patients while protecting the health of your physicians and staff by taking advantage of remote work opportunities?

If so, you are not alone.

Many practices had already incorporated telemedicine into their practice model before social distancing practices closed medical offices across the country. For those practices that have not explored telemedicine, here are some tips to help guide you through the process.

Verify telemedicine is an option for your practice:

  1. Make sure your malpractice insurance policy covers telemedicine.
  2. Make sure you are familiar with what procedures your patients’ insurance providers will cover.

Setting up telemedicine technology:

  1. See if your EHR vendor has telemedicine functionality that you can simply request to be turned on.
  2. If your EHR vendor does not have telemedicine capabilities, you can check with your state medical association or the American Telemedicine Association for guidance on choosing the right vendor for your practice.
  3. New technology can be stressful even when your practice has been preparing and planning for it. Because of the rapidly changing environment, the federal government has relaxed the Office for Civil Rights enforcement of HIPAA rules during the COVID-19 public health emergency and will allow practices to use popular video chat platforms like Zoom, Skype, Facebook Messenger, etc. Learn more about these changes here:
  4. If you are interested in the possibility of continuing to provide telemedicine as part of the array of care you offer for your patients and are interested in telemedicine applications you will use into the future, remember to ensure the program you purchase is HIPAA compliant, that you know who owns and controls the data generated during patient visits and understand the pricing structure.

Using telemedicine in your practice:

  1. Make sure all virtual visits are properly documented. If your existing EHR is providing the telemedicine capability, you can document virtual visits as you would with an in-person visit. If you are using a different platform, you will need to establish a policy for your staff to ensure all visits are documented.
  2. Make sure you have received advanced consent from your patients. Ideally, your technology vendor can do this electronically.
  3. Let your patients know you are offering telemedicine services.