April 20, 2020 | Net Health

3 Minute Read

Why Telehealth is the New Normal and How to Get Started

When advocating for telehealth in a recent Net Health webinar, rehab therapist and telehealth pioneer David Grigsby, MPT, cert MDT, uses the fast food pizza delivery company Domino’s as an example of how providing convenience can keep a company from going under in tough times.

Grigsby explained that when Domino’s started to fall in the fast food pizza delivery market and had to start closing down stores, they reacted by not only improving the quality of their pizza, but also by providing an app that offered convenience. Consumers could use the app to order their pizza whenever they wanted or wherever they were, and they could pay for the pizza before it arrived.

“Their market share went up dramatically, and they became the number one pizza fast food chain,” Grigsby said, citing his friend and fellow physical therapist Rob Vining, MSPT, another telehealth advocate, who said: “People will choose convenience every time if the outcomes are the same or better.”

“Domino’s saw that,” Grigsby noted. “The question I have for us as rehab therapists, is are we going to see that, through this time?” Grigsby challenged rehab therapists to follow the pizza chain’s example.

“As many of us are transitioning to telehealth, if people see the convenience of these telehealth visits, and they’re getting great outcomes, are they going to want to go back to the clinic, or will they want to keep telehealth visits?” Grigsby asks. “And if you go back to your old ways, will you lose business because of the guy next door to you, who’s continuing telehealth visits?”

Tips for Getting Started with Telehealth

In the webinar Grigsby, co-owner of Tennessee-based Midsouth Orthopaedic Rehab, offered advice for rehab therapists interested in leveraging telehealth to maintain continuity of care and keep their businesses going.

“Very few of us are trained in telehealth, but most of us will have to learn before this is all over,” said webinar host Doug Cundiff, MPT, MPH, vice president of Net Health’s 360 Professional Services, which supports clients of Net Health’s ReDoc® powered by xfit® EHR solution. “We want to make sure we are arming clients with tools to make themselves more accessible and to have a larger outreach.”

Grigsby highlighted key information about telehealth as well as actions and suggested steps to take for setting up a telehealth service. Here are some of the tips he offered during the webinar:

• Select a platform with options that make the experience easy and convenient for patients. Make sure the platform enables a convenient login for your patients that can be sent via email or text, or through an app that allows you to connect to your patient simply and easily. You’ll need options for sharing your screen and recording. “We have a platform where all we have to do is send out a link to a page where the patient types in their name and connects right to us,” Grigsby shared. “Try to give them that one-click link.”

• If you can, try to use an EMR that allows you to collect payments. Ideally, you should be able to collect payments up front, or at minimum, you should have a system that processes collections, whether you’re getting paid by the insurance company or by the patient via copay or cash.

• Check with each insurance company you are contracted with to understand requirements. “It’s imperative, and I can’t repeat this more, that you call your insurance companies,” Grigsby stressed. “You need to understand your requirements for in-person visits vs. telehealth, direct access and scope of practice.” He explained that each insurance company is different. Some may require patients to have an in-person visit the first time, which in turn may limit your ability to be a telehealth only practice.

• Talk to each insurance company about what modifiers you need to use when filing claims. You will use modifiers differently than with typical outpatient therapy, and insurance companies will differ in the codes required for reimbursement for telehealth.

• Know your state laws. While telehealth is legal in all 50 states, each state has its own restrictions, laws and policies. Some states may require referrals, for instance. Be aware that state laws can differ from insurance requirements. A good source of information for state laws is the Center for Connected Health Policy.

Grigsby also shares information about Medicare reimbursement for telehealth, phone consultations and e-visits, documenting and billing, parity law, PT Compact standards and how to develop new ways to assess and treat patients via telehealth. View the webinar.

To support healthcare organizations during the COVID-19 pandemic, Net Health recently rolled out a telehealth option to its ReDoc® powered by xfit® EHR for rehab therapists in hospitals and private practices, as well as its WoundExpert® EHR for outpatient and independent wound care providers. Learn more about the telehealth offering.

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