Telemedicine. It’s a practice that many medical professionals are not yet familiar with, however, this method of delivery of healthcare services is gaining in popularity. Many physicians have turned to telemedicine as a more convenient way to provide patient services.
If you’re in practice management, you might be wondering whether this is something that could be helpful for your practice. Besides issues related to the effectiveness and efficiency of telemedicine services you may also have questions about how this could affect various practice processes and how the implementation of telemedicine services could impact your cash flow.
What is Telemedicine?
Telemedicine (also called telehealth) is a practice that is growing increasingly popular among medical professionals. Many medical offices are adopting this practice in order to help patients save money and provide more efficient around the clock medical treatment. Telemedicine is a method of care that involves physicians using technology to communicate with their patients. Video, phone calls, email, and even smartphones have been used to help physicians treat their patients. Telemedicine makes it easier to connect with patients and to transfer medical records and other information.
Through these methods, doctors can provide advice, diagnose a condition, and prescribe medication. This doesn’t always replace face-to-face appointments, but it can help to augment the care being given by the physician.
Telemedicine is usually used when a patient needs some non-urgent advice, but doesn’t have the time or means to travel to the doctor’s office. It’s a more convenient way to interact with one’s physician without the need to visit the doctor’s office.
Getting Paid for Telemedicine Services
It’s only natural to wonder about payment for these types of services. Every doctor has concerns about filing claims and how a new process will impact the practice management system. There is some good news about telemedicine and Medicare. In some situations, telemedicine services are covered. This can include remote pathology, radiology and some cardiology. Medicare also covers physician services that utilize videoconferencing for traditional fee-for-service beneficiaries who live in rural areas.
Most states require that private insurers include coverage for telemedicine services in the same way in-person services are covered. Plus, most state Medicaid plans cover at least some telemedicine services.
The Benefits of Telemedicine
The main reason telemedicine services are used is because of the convenience it provides and the money that can be saved. It makes it much easier to give treatment to patients who are dealing with non-emergency issues. Telehealth has been utilized in several government and non-government organizations.
Here are some of the benefits:
• Helps to treat serious injuries if there isn’t time to get the patient to the hospital.
• Reduces outpatient visits. It’s especially handy for simple oversight or prescribing medication.
• ICU’s that utilize telemedicine have lower mortality rates and shorter hospital stays.
Concerns about Telemedicine
While there are a lot of benefits to using telemedicine, there are also some concerns about the practice. Many of these concerns center around cost and the quality of healthcare:
• Since telemedicine lowers the amount of face-to-face interaction, the risk of errors can increase.
• Overall, the telecommunication infrastructure can be quite costly.
• Telemedicine cannot give immediate treatment to the patient.
• Can be more difficult to ensure compliance with HIPAA laws, especially when it comes to ensuring the privacy of patients.
Telemedicine is a practice that has several advantages and some potential drawbacks. For some medical practices, it may be a perfect solution. For others, not so much. If you’re considering using telemedicine in your practice, make sure you know as much about it as possible and keep in mind that whether services are delivered face-to-face or via telemedicine delivery options, accurate tracking is always essential. PracticeSuite can help you streamline documentation for all types of patient services, billing, and reimbursement processes. Sign up for a free version PracticeSuite medical billing software and enjoy all the benefits offered.
Last Updated on February 18, 2015