Telehealth & Medical Billing
When the COVID-19 pandemic started, social distancing was (and still is) recommended to combat the virus. For healthcare practitioners, this meant some adopted telehealth practices.
What Is Telehealth?
Telehealth, telemedicine, virtual practice are all terms describing conducting your routine healthcare activities electronically and remotely. From speaking with patients over the phone to checking vitals, all of these are parts of telehealth.
When Did Telehealth Start?
Conversations around telehealth might have started earlier than you thought. Contrary to belief, it does not necessarily require internet access.
In 1879, an article discussed the possibility of telephone doctor’s visits. In 1906, the inventor of the electrocardiogram introduced the concept of a telecardiogram. You can read more about the history here. This article was published in 2012 and even then, the concept of telehealth was talked about. Without going into any more detail on the history, you can see that conversations around telehealth started over a hundred years ago.
Especially with the pandemic, telehealth has become a more relevant topic. According to the CDC, telehealth visits (virtual visits) increased by 50% in the first quarter of 2020. With the advancements in technology, there are also more methods by which telehealth can be conducted. Physicians can talk to patients over the phone, over video conference, text, and etc.
Telehealth Medical Billing
With increased telehealth activity, there have also been changes to telehealth insurance coverage. Different private insurance providers have expanded policies to cover telehealth. Similar to in-person visits, you should verify that the patient is covered before billing. Medicare and Medicaid now also cover telehealth.
Some examples of telehealth CPT codes covered by Medicare:
- 99441 – virtual visit for 5-10 minutes over phone
- 99442 – virtual visit for 11-20 minutes over phone
- 99443 – virtual visit for 21-30 minutes over phone
There many more covered services, and you can get access to a full list of downloadable, covered codes here.
Some of these codes are only covered until the end of the pandemic, so be cautious of this when billing.
Telehealth & The Future
According to the CDC website, there seems to be an increased trend towards telehealth due to the pandemic; however, it is not without difficulties. In additional to HIPAA concerns, there are many other issues such as cybersecurity or technology malfunctions that physicians should be careful of.
With everything being electronic, be careful to stay HIPAA compliant. Keep patient records private and secure. For more information on HIPAA compliance, you can check out our older blog post on this subject.
Overall, remain vigilant to changes in telehealth billing and how to pertains to current issues such as COVID-19. Check out the following websites for more, reliable information on telehealth billing:
- telehealth.hhs.gov – US government website for patient and provider information on Telehealth practices, how to set up telehealth, coding and billing
- The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services – information on Medicare and Telehealth, Telehealth CPT codes
- US Department of Health & Human Services – HIPAA compliance for telehealth, COVID-19 and telehealth
Medical Billing For Virtual Practices
At Americare Network, we understand how to bill for a range of practices. From telemed and virtual practices to facility technical billing, we cover it all. You can check out all the practices we have experience working with here. Our expert team will deliver efficient and effective billing and collections for your practice and telehealth needs.